FT: “A patent predicament: who owns an AI-generated invention?”

October 6, 2019 — Excerpt. Originally published in Financial Times

Brown, Neri, Smith & Khan LLP partner, Ryan Abbott, was recently quoted in the Financial Times, regarding his groundbreaking efforts to obtain patent protection for AI-generated inventions. Excerpt below:

Ryan Abbott, professor of law and health sciences at the University of Surrey and one of the lawyers campaigning on behalf of Dabus, argues that the AI system should be recognised as the inventor. The system’s creator would then hold the patent in the same way that someone named successor in title can take ownership rights of an estate or business.

The problem is that if AI cannot be recognised as an inventor, the owners of the AI will not have any protection for the ideas generated by their work. This may discourage them from pushing further development. Not recognising the AI as an inventor threatens innovation by “failing to encourage the production of socially valuable inventions”, argues Mr Abbott’s team.

While the idea of granting intellectual property protections to a machine may seem a niche concern now, it will become more pressing as AI systems invent more routinely. Indeed, it is possible that AI is already generating new ideas but that its role is being concealed because of legal uncertainty, according to Mr Abbott.

“AI will need to play a more important role in research and development,” he says. “These machines may be the best way we have to come up with inventions . . . We need a framework for protecting this stuff.”