DABUS, i.e. the Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience, is an artificial intelligence (“AI”) system that has the ability to generate inventions. DABUS garnered worldwide attention when two patent applications naming it as a co-inventor were filed with several patent offices, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”). In April 2020, the USPTO published a decision in which the USPTO concluded that an AI system cannot be an inventor and an inventor must be a natural person. This week, Dr. Stephen Thaler, who is the owner, user, and developer of DABUS, filed a lawsuit against the USPTO in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Thaler claims that the USPTO’s AI inventor ban “creates a novel substantive requirement for patentability that is contrary to existing law and at odds with the policy underlying the patent system.” Also, the USPTO’s AI inventor ban “is anti-intellectual property and anti-business.” Thaler requests declaratory and injunctive relief, including a declaration that a patent application for an AI-generated invention should not be rejected on the basis that an AI system is identified as an inventor and a declaration that a patent application for an AI-generated invention should list an AI system as an inventor. AI systems have become increasingly capable of creating works and generating inventions with little or no aid from a natural person. This lawsuit will be interesting to follow as it is likely to spur meaningful discussion about the implications of AI on IP rights.
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