A University of Surrey-based team have filed the first patent applications for inventions created by a machine. Applications were made to the US, EU and UK patent offices; they are for a machine using artificial intelligence as the inventor of two ideas for a beverage container and a flashing light.
Media's attention toward this move resonates with last year's prediction by Baker McKenzie that "Patentability of AI-created inventions, liability for infringement by AI, and patent subject-matter eligibility of AI technologies are the top three areas of patent law that will be disrupted by AI."
Looking to the future, AI poses challenges to the legal framework. "The patent system was designed to incentivize innovation by granting exclusive rights to inventors for a limited time in exchange for their inventions. But it was encoded into law when there were no computers," according to Baker McKenzie.
There is now a site for a project focused on intellectual property rights and the output of artificial intelligence. This is the Artificial Inventor Project, and it can clarify why the topic of AI and patents is so relevant today.
How can one possibly suggest that an AI system 'should be recognized as inventor, however? That would seem to go nowhere fast. Nonetheless, it is travelling as an open question. Leo Kelion, BBC, brought this issue into a UK perspective:
"The UK's Patents Act 1977 currently requires an inventor to be a person, but the Intellectual Property Office is aware of the issue," he wrote. He quoted a spokesperson. 'The government believes that AI technology could increase the UK's GDP by 10% in the next decade, and the IPO is focused on responding to the challenges that come with this growth.'"
As previously mentioned, elsewhere than the UK, applications were also pending. Law professor Ryan Abbott told BBC News: "These days, you commonly have AIs writing books and taking pictures but if you don't have a traditional author, you cannot get copyright protection in the US."