International courts disagree over patents on AI-generated inventions

London, UK

Aritificial intelligence is accelerating into our lives at a rapid rate of knots, and as the technology develops and is implemented into almost everything we do, there are questions being raised about its use and suitability.  Some of these questions involve critical legal opinion and a case in point here is, whether patents should be allowed for inventions that have been AI-generated - it seems that a high court in Germany has just approved patent protection for such an invention, whereas earlier this year, according to the University of Surrey, both the UK and US courts have ruled against it.

Inventions generated by artificial intelligence can be patented, rules the Bundesgerichtshof, Germany's highest civil court. This now resolves a split between German federal appellate courts.

The case is part of the Artificial Inventor Project – a global initiative to attempt to patent AI-generated output, led by Professor Ryan Abbott from the University of Surrey.

The German decision stands in contrast to similar cases brought forward by Professor Abbott and his team in jurisdictions such as the United States, which require a natural person – a human being – to make a substantial contribution to an invention for the invention to be patentable. Earlier this year, the United Kingdom Supreme Court ruled that if an AI generates an invention, it is inherently unprotectable.

Professor Abbott welcomed the decision and said: "The Bundesgerichtshof has confirmed that an AI-generated invention is protectable and that a natural person can be named as an inventor even if AI has been used to generate the invention. An AI generating an invention does not justify the rejection of a patent application.

We have all seen just how quickly generative AI products have developed over the past two years, and it's critical that our laws are updated to keep up with unprecedented changes that these technologies will bring."

In Germany, prior court decisions had respectively overturned and upheld the German patent office's decision to reject two different patent applications for AI-generated inventions.

The patent, in this case, is for a food container designed using fractal geometry, which involves complex patterns that repeat at different scales. This container was created by an artificial intelligence named DABUS, which stands for "device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified sentience."


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