Supreme Court Declines Opportunity to Reconsider AI Inventorship

The nation’s highest court made a simple yet important decision recently to reject a petition to review long-held legal boundaries surrounding Artificial Intelligence and inventorship. As we mentioned in our most recent post about AI and intellectual property, these court actions are an expected aspect of the continued evolution of how AI technologies impact IP rights.

As we mentioned previously, the courts have long held the belief that the right to inventorship belongs to “individuals,” which legal precedent defines as human beings only. This means machines and computer programs are not able to claim ownership themselves, just the same as a monkey cannot be given copyright protection for a selfie.

In this particular case, the Supreme Court upheld precedent by rejecting a petition from the inventor of an AI machine that produced a light beacon and beverage container. The inventor claimed vague language in the Patent Act opened up the possibility of machines as inventors worthy of protection and that limiting inventorship to humans will limit innovation.

Even with this decision, the Supreme Court left the door open for Congress to reconsider the way it defines inventorship. In the decision, justices wrote “Congress has determined that only a natural person can be an inventor,” which puts the spotlight on any attempts by Congress to alter current statutes. It’s not uncommon for such changes, especially with the way AI technologies have progressed and become more accessible to the public. Certain members of Congress have already stated an intention to uphold the law as written currently, preventing AI inventors from replacing human ones outright.

Some creatives and innovators have raised concerns about the swift advancement of AI technologies and how current and future IP protections will survive these systems. If machines are given the same rights to create protectable inventions then questions would arise about the long-term viability of human inventorship. Machines do not face the same limitations as humans, so the input and output of AI programs could completely replace human creation if unchecked, according to some concerned individuals.

At McDermott IP Law, we believe in supporting innovation in ways that allow creative, innovative humans to thrive in their industry. We work diligently to protect original works and are keeping a close eye on artificial intelligence matters as they pertain to intellectual property. If you have additional questions about how those two worlds intertwine or need help protecting your innovation, call us at (704) 451-2126 or use the contact form on our website.

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