AI systems cannot receive patents and will not be recognized as inventors under U.S. law, said a federal judge who ruled to uphold a previous ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this year. week.

Stephen Thaler, founder of Imagination Engines, a Missouri-based company, filed for two U.S. patents in 2019 describing a food container based on fractal geometry and an emergency light beacon. Instead of putting his own name on the apps, however, Thaler gave full credit to DABUS, a neural network he built and claimed came with both creations.

The US Patent and Trademark Office, however, rejected both requests and said that only “natural persons” are allowed to be named inventors on patent documents. In response, Thaler sued Andrei Iancu, then director of the patent office, in an East Virginia federal court to challenge that decision.

“There is no law or case that has concluded that an AI-generated invention cannot be patented, or that owns an AI cannot be listed as an inventor,” argued lawyers for Thaler. [PDF] in his trial.

“Rather, any discussion of inventors as natural persons has been based on the assumption that only a person can invent, or to prevent the corporate and sovereign inventor at the expense of a human inventor.”

But Judge Leonie Brinkema disagreed and sided with the current director of the patent office, Drew Hirshfeld. [PDF], ruling that the law states that “individuals” must take an oath to swear that they are the inventor of a patent application. These people must be natural persons, which computer software is not.

Thaler wants to continue fighting for the inventor’s rights to his machines, mainly to prevent humans from stealing computer-generated ideas and taking all the credit for them.

“We do not agree with the district court ruling and plan to appeal the case to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals,” said one of its lawyers, Ryan Abbott, professor of law. and Health Sciences at the University of Surrey, England. The register Friday.

Thaler won his crusade last month when an Australian federal court agreed with him that an artificial intelligence system could qualify as a patent inventor.

“Humans deny these rights in the first place, being stuck in an age-old paradigm rut in which only wet computers – that is, brains – matter,” Thaler said. El Reg last year before suing the US patent office.

“What happens when a very advanced alien civilization visits Earth?

“Does ET deserve the equivalent of human rights? Does it dare to file a patent or copyright protection? So what happens when science does the downloading of consciousness into machines, or silicon prostheses being inserted into the protoplasmic brain? Would the system deny these people human rights? … These are big questions. ®

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