“Key Learnings from AI-Enhanced Invention Guidance”

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has recently issued guidance regarding inventorship for inventions developed with the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI). This move comes as part of the federal government’s efforts to ensure that AI is developed in a safe, secure, and trustworthy manner.

The guidance aims to clarify how inventorship is determined when AI is involved in the innovation process. It reflects the USPTO’s commitment to adapting examination practices to keep up with the rapidly evolving technological landscape.

The issuance of this guidance follows earlier attempts to name an AI agent as an inventor in a patent application. These attempts, notably by the Artificial Intelligence Project in 2019, were met with rejection by the USPTO. The courts, including the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, upheld the decision that inventors must be natural human beings.

Stephen Thaler, representing the Artificial Intelligence Project, argued at each stage that AI agents should be recognized as inventors to encourage innovation. However, both the USPTO and the courts emphasized that the Patent Act specifies that inventors must be natural persons.

In light of these rulings, the USPTO’s guidance reaffirms that AI entities cannot be listed as inventors. Instead, it outlines criteria for identifying a natural person associated with an AI-assisted invention as the inventor. The guidance utilizes the Pannu factors to determine if the individual has made a significant contribution to the claimed invention.

With this guidance, the USPTO aims to assist applicants and examiners in determining whether a natural person using AI should be recognized as an inventor based on their contributions to the invention. The guidance aims to strike a balance between encouraging innovation in AI-assisted inventions while maintaining the integrity of inventorship requirements.

For more information on the USPTO’s AI inventorship guidance, interested parties can refer to the official USPTO resources available on their website. This guidance marks a significant step in the evolving landscape of patent law and AI technology, ensuring that innovation is fostered while adhering to legal standards.


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