LAW: An Update on AI Inventorship and Authorship Cases

by Dennis Crouch

In 2022, the Federal Circuit held that an invention is only eligible for a US patent if a human conceived of the invention. Thus, no patents for invention wholly conceived by artificial intelligence. Thaler v. Vidal43 F.4th 1207 (Fed. Cir. 2022).  Thaler’s petition for writ of certiorari to the US Supreme Court would have been due last week, but Thaler was able to obtain an extension with the petition now being due March 19, 2023.  Thaler’s main attorney throughout this process has been Professor Ryan Abbott. The team recently added appellate attorney and Supreme Court expert Mark Davies to the team, and so it should be a great filing when it comes.  The motion for extension explains that the case presents a fundamental question of how the law of inventorship should apply “to new technological methods of invention.”

Specifically, this case arises from the Federal Circuit’s denial of a patent to an invention created by an artificial intelligence (AI) system, holding that an AI system is categorically unable to meet the definition of “inventor” under the Patent Act. The questions presented in Dr. Thaler’s petition will have a significant impact on Congress’s carefully balanced scheme for protecting the public interest in promoting innovation and ensuring the United States’ continued international leadership in the protection of intellectual property.

Extension Motion.  Part of the justification for delay is that Dr. Thaler and his attorneys have a parallel copyright case pending. Thaler attempted to register a copyright for a computer-created work of art. But, the copyright office refused once Thaler expressly stated that there was no human author.  Thaler then sued in DC District Court.  Most recently, Thaler moved for summary judgment, presenting the following question for the district court to decide:

With the facts not in dispute, this case boils down to one novel legal question: Can someone register a copyright in a creative work made by an artificial intelligence? The plain language and purpose of the Copyright Act agree that such works should be copyrightable. In addition, standard property law principles of ownership, as well as the work-for-hire doctrine, apply to make Plaintiff Dr. Stephen Thaler the copyright’s owner.

THALER v. PERLMUTTER et al, Docket No. 1:22-cv-01564, Paper No. 16 (D.D.C. Jan 10, 2023).  The image, reproduced below from the complaint is known as “A Recent Entrance to Paradise.” (Registration Application #1-7100387071).

In another recent example, the Copyright Office has also canceled copyright registration for Zarya of the Dawnapparently because of its AI-created status.

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