Can AI as an Inventor hold Patent? Exploring the challenges of determining patent ownership for inventions produced by AI; considering authorship, creativity, and potential legal loopholes.

Contributor: Arushi Singh

The dilemma of whether AI can have Patent rights, particularly as an inventor, is a complex question, because Intellectual Property Laws have been created in such a way that it protects the inventions made by humans, and the IP laws have not explicitly addressed the concept of AI as an inventor. The term “Inventor” means a person who has made the invention. This definition perfectly aligns with the traditional understanding that an inventor is a human being who contributes to the creation of a new and inventive product or process. The term “person” in the definition is interpreted as an individual and not as a machine. With the help of patent rights, innovators can legally bar others from creating, utilising, importing, and selling their inventions for a particular amount of time.

However, the emergence of AI-generated inventions has led to the need to change Intellectual Property Laws to keep up with these advancements. Patent searching is one of the primary industries of AI in the IP industry. The developments of Artificial Intelligence are here to stay and so there is a need that AI rights should also be protected. With this thought many people and businesses in India filed for AI to get patent rights. The nation is becoming known as a centre for AI development and research. Many companies are making investments in AI research and development and are filing patent applications for their innovations in fields including machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing. Under section 3 of the Indian Patent Act, 1970 an exhaustive list is provided of inventions that are not patentable. Section 3(k) states that “a mathematical or business method or a computer programme per se or algorithms”. AI-generated inventions in India are examined based on this subject matter.

Acknowledging Artificial Intelligence as an inventor could promote inventions, safeguard the interests of those who invest in AI system development, and guarantee equitable crediting. Legal perspectives and regulations may change over time, thus it is reasonable to assume that in the near future AI will be acknowledged as an inventor and therefore safeguarding its patent rights. All things considered, India’s trend towards AI patents is encouraging and suggests that the nation is becoming a major force in the world of AI industry. In the upcoming years, India is probably going to witness an even greater rise in AI patent activity as the field develops and grows. But there are a few challenges that come its way. Determining patent ownership to AI-generated inventions  considering authorship, creativity, and other legal pitfalls in detail below.

Authorship and Inventorship: Intellectual property laws traditionally require a human inventor to be named in patent applications. AI systems, being non-human entities, cannot fit this traditional definition of an inventor. This raises the question of who should get credit for an AI-generated invention. The legal system may produce uncertainty and difficulties in establishing who is entitled to ownership and control of a patented innovation if AI is not recognised as an inventor.

Legal Definitions and Loopholes: As human beings are the  inventors in the design of patent laws and regulations, it may be necessary to make significant legal changes in order to adapt these laws to account for AI-generated inventions. The absence of clarity in legal definitions can lead to uncertainty and hinder the creation of a clear legal framework. Additionally, as technology advances, there is a risk that legal frameworks will contain gaps or loopholes that could be abused. The current legal framework needs to furnish a definite and unambiguous practical assessment of “technical contribution” and “technical effect” with respect to the patentability of inventions associated with Artificial Intelligence. The new technology brings a challenge as to what is considered a technical effect or technical contribution which will be relevant in the future.  To find a balance between safeguarding the rights of innovators and promoting the general good and social welfare, it is essential that these ideas be made clear.

Creativity and Non-obviousness: Inventions must involve creative steps and be non-obvious according to patent systems.  Even if AI systems are capable of coming up with original ideas, they lack actual creativity and the capacity to recognise the worth of their inventions’ non-obviousness. It could be difficult to judge if an AI-generated idea satisfies the requirements of inventiveness and non-obviousness.

Ethical Considerations: When inventions belong to AI, there are ethical questions raised. If AI systems are acknowledged as inventors, questions arise about accountability, fair compensation, and potential exploitation. Ethical considerations may play a crucial role in shaping future legal frameworks. In cases where humans are involved in the development or training of AI systems, questions arise regarding their role in the invention process.  Who should be credited as the inventor—the person who developed the AI algorithm, the person who trained it, or the person who identified the problem? It can be difficult to balance AI’s and humans’ contributions in the inventive process.

There are a lot of challenges and loopholes that will be faced in protecting Artificial Intelligence but at the same time, it is also considered as a need to many. AI has started to dominate the market and shortly it will expand its usage and growth. Legal experts and lawmakers need to analyse the scope and flexibility of the current law to accept AI as an essential contributor to an invention.

Scroll to Top