Machines are Taking over: Can a Machine Get a Patent? Update

by Intellectual Property Attorney Bill Honaker, the IP Guy

Update on my article,Machines are Taking Over: Can a Machine Get a Patent?

The answer is, no, not in the United States. The USPTO has issued a final decision holding that only a natural person may get a patent. Machines cannot. 

On July 29, 2009, Stephen L. Thaler filed patent applications naming DABUS as the inventor. Dabus is short for “Device or the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Science,” and is an AI system created by Stephen Thaler. Dabus is named as the sole inventor on two applications, one for a food container, and the other for an alert light.

The patent office sent a requirement to identify each inventor by their legal name. Thaler responded to this requirement by asking the patent office to withdraw the requirement as unnecessary.

The USPTO reviewed the patent statutes, case law, and its own Manual of Patent Examination Procedure, and concluded that all references to inventors suggested that they have to be natural persons. The USPTO concluded that only natural persons can obtain a patent, and that machines cannot.  

The result is not surprising. As I argued in my article, Congress seems to be the best branch of government to decide if AI can be an inventor. They can hear from experts on the issue, pro and con, debate, and legislate to resolve the issue. 


Bill Honaker, The IP Guy

About the Author:

Bill Honaker, “The IP Guy” is a former USPTO Examiner, a partner with Dickinson-Wright, and author of the forthcoming book, Invisible Assets – How to Maximize the Hidden Value in Your Business. To download a sample chapter, click here.

To get answers to your questions click here. To schedule a time to talk, you can access my calendar by clicking here, email, or call me at 248-433-7381.


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