AI Inventor Poll

If you are thinking about this from the corporate level, check out my new book chapter: Dennis Crouch, Legal Fictions and the Corporation as an Inventive Artificial Intelligence, Forthcoming in Research Handbooks on Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence (R. Abbott, ed). A draft version is available online here: .


26 thoughts on “AI Inventor Poll

  1. 7

    Current state of US law, AI cannot be listed as an inventor on a U.S. patent. Statutes could be changed to allow listing an AI as co-inventor with humans (but if I was a human co-inventor I might object). Constitution will not tolerate issuing a patent with only non-human inventors. The country is not ready for conferring a constitutional “right” on a machine. Much to think about before that can happen.

    1. 7.1

      We must remember it took amendments to the Constitution to confer constitutional rights on black and female HUMANS. I doubt SCOTUS will take upon themselves to confer such rights on machines by interpretation.

    2. 7.2


      While I do not (necessarily) disagree with your overall position (vis a vis US law and granting patents to applications with AI as an inventor), the distinction you attempt between Only AI and AI as co-inventor simply does not work.

      The adage of “in for a penny, then in for the pound” applies.

      1. 7.2.1

        The Constitution will tolerate listing an AI as coinventor because the human inventors, as defined in the Constitution, are afforded the exclusive right to their invention. Listing an AI as coinventor does not offend that objective of the Constitution. Also, the statutory framework does not need to recognize or contemplate IP as a “right’’ to be conferred on the machine (because it is conferring that right on the human inventors), so the statutory framework could treat the AI differently from the human inventors. My $.02.


          Your $0.02 remains in error.

          The “co” part simply does not — in and of itself — make it ‘ok.’

          Are you aware of the Lockean nature of the US patent right (the Constitution allocating authority to a specific branch of the government to control the turning of the inchoate right into the full basket of personal property rights)?

          I am curious though where you picked up your notions in regards to the Constitutional tie.

  2. 5

    >Whether an artificial intelligence can be an inventor

    Is that limited to current/near-future “AI”? Or does it also include hypothetical, ST:NG-level AI from the 25th century?

    1. 5.1

      Your question, while intended perhaps for humor, does carry a distinction that MANY are far too glib about: AI as a mere tool and AI that is more than a mere tool.

      As I have noted, that distinction comes down to whether or not a human may properly meet the legal definition of inventor.

      And — critically — merely “opening a black box in a second room into which the invention of another has been placed, and that reader merely reading what is in the box” does NOT satisfy that legal definition.

      1. 5.1.1

        >AI that is more than a mere tool.

        At the risk of outing myself as a geek, there were a couple of story lines about whether select AI’s were “more than a mere tool.”

        Significantly, none of those stories involved the ships’ main computers, which could simulate characters of sufficient depth/nuance that it was quite common for real people to fall in love with them. Perhaps even more impressively, those simulated love-interests could apparently be created from pretty vague instructions (e.g., “create a simulation based on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle…”)

        Obviously, these stories are created for narrative purposes, so take them with a grain-of-salt. Still, they maybe give some insight of where non-lawyers draw the line.


          Certainly, “narrative purposes” can be amusing.

          But even those narrative purposes make the point that a difference exists between AI as a tool, and not so.

          As I noted, there is a clear and easy marker: if there is a portion to which no human can make a proper claim to be the legal inventor, then the “mere use as a tool” does not apply.

          I do believe that the Gist of the Professor’s post here is that for inventions subject to “co-inventor status,” the “bar” may be even lower than that having been probed by the DABUS applications.

          Not yet rolled into the conversation (and a literal ‘pregnant pause’), is what becomes of the other NON-real-human legal mechanism for State of The Art purposes when it is recognized that “an advance” in whole or in part cannot be legitimately traced to an actual human?

          Does the NON-real-human of the legal fiction of a Person Having Ordinary Skill In The Art ‘absorb’ any and all AI portions?

  3. 3

    The Thaler v. Vidal question-presented language “..whether AI discoveries can be patented” seems to falsely implying that AI use is not already being patented (by human inventors). [Of course, “discoveries” of naturally-occurring items may be unpatentable under Sup. Ct. case law 101-exceptions.]

  4. 2

    My first thought was:

    Could the creators of the AI require, as part of licensing their AI to downstream users, that any invention made using their AI as an “inventor”, is automatically assigned, in whole or in part, to the creator of the AI?

    1. 2.1

      No – the “Slave Doctrine” would prevent this.

      More generally (and to others, notably MaxDrei), I have previously explicated why a mere human “opening a black box and reading the invention of another” does NOT qualify that human reader as a legal inventor.

      This is just not a difficult point to grasp.

    2. 2.2

      I wondered the same thing. The strategy would be: (1) establish that DABUS is the inventor of things that DABUS generates, (2) establish that Thaler is the assignee of inventions generated by DABUS, (3) give DABUS out for free to anyone willing to take the bargain, and (4) license those inventions back to the DABUS users (or anyone else who’s interested, as the case may be).

      The beauty of the strategy – if it worked – would be that Thaler would, at the very least, have a finger in every pie that DABUS baked. Even if DABUS had to share inventorship, that’s still a pretty good revenue stream.

  5. 1

    Inventors: Alice Smith, San Diego, CA (US), Bob Johnson, San Diego, CA (US), Generative Adversarial Network, San Diego, CA (US), Excel 2019, Redmond, WA (US), 17 #2 Pencils, San Diego, CA (US), 4 Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Seattle, WA (US)…

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