Shortly before Christmas, the European Patent Office’s Board of Appeal rejected an application to name an artificial intelligence system, Dabus, as an inventor on two patent applications EP 18 275 163 and EP 18 275 174. The full details of the decision have not emerged, but a brief press release gives some details of the case.
The two applications were initially refused by the Receiving Section of the EPO on the grounds that the named inventor was not a human. The decision was based on Article 81 of the European Patent Convention in conjunction with Rule 19(1). The EPO considered that only a natural person can receive a patent for an invention.
The EPO also rejected an auxiliary request that Dabus transfer its rights in the invention to the Applicant.
The patent application has met a similar fate in other countries. Currently on Australia and South Africa have recognized the concept of an AI system being an inventor. Their laws are slightly different from those in Europe. The UK High Court has also rejected the idea that Dabus should be named as an inventor, whereas the German Patent Court has arrived at a compromise under which the invention can be stated to have been conceived with the help of a computer.
There is no further right of appeal in Europe, but clearly, the question about inventions made either directly by or at least with the support of a computer is one that will be increasingly relevant and needs to be resolved. In Europe, it will probably require an amendment to the European Patent Convention.
We’ve worked on a number of patent applications in which we have named a human as an inventor and explained that the idea was conceived with the help of the computer. If you’d like more information, then feel free to get in touch.