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SCOTUS Declines To Hear Patent Case On AI-Generated Inventions

 |  April 24, 2023

The US Supreme Court rejected computer scientist Stephen Thaler’s challenge to the US Patent and Trademark Office’s decision not to grant patents for inventions developed by his artificial intelligence system.

Thaler’s appeal of a lower court’s decision was denied by the justices, stating that patents are only granted to human inventors. The AI system in question could not be recognized as the legal creator of two inventions that Thaler claimed it had generated.

Thaler established Imagination Engines Inc, a technology company specializing in artificial neural networks located in Saint Charles, Missouri. Thaler claims that his DABUS system, which stands for Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience, generated distinct prototypes for a beverage holder and emergency light beacon independently.

Read more: SCOTUS Asked To Rule On Whether AI Can Be A Patent Inventor

The US Patent and Trademark Office, along with a federal judge in Virginia, denied his patent applications for inventions due to the argument that DABUS is not a person. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, focused on patents, upheld these decisions in the previous year and stated that according to US patent law, inventors must be human beings.

Thaler presented to the Supreme Court the argument that AI is being utilized to advance innovation in various areas including medicine and energy. He stated that declining patents generated by AI obstructs the patent system’s capacity and goes against Congress’s objective to efficiently encourage technological progress and innovation.

Supporters of Thaler in his Supreme Court case include Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law professor, and other academics who argue in a brief that the decision made by the Federal Circuit could potentially harm current and future investments, impact US competitiveness, and is not in line the language used in the Patent Act.