COMPUTER INVENTIONSHIP should be reflected in the patent system to encourage the development of 'creative computers', a law professor has argued.
Ryan Abbott, professor of law at the University of Surrey School of Law, believes that computers should be named in patent applications and even granted patents.
"While some patent prosecutors say the ability of machines to create patentable inventions on their own is well off in the future, artificial intelligence [AI] has actually been generating inventive ideas for decades. In just one example, an AI system named the Creativity Machine invented the first cross-bristled toothbrush design," he said.
"Soon, computers will routinely invent and it may only be a matter of time until computers are responsible for most innovation. To optimise innovation, and the positive impact this will have on our economies, it is critical that we extend the laws around inventorship to include computers."
Professor Abbott pushed his idea in an article published in the Boston College Law Review.
"Machines have been autonomously generating patentable results for at least 20 years and the pace of such invention is likely increasing. In some cases, a computer's output constitutes patentable subject matter, and the computer, rather than a person, meets the requirements for inventorship," he said.
"Despite this, and despite the fact that the Patent Office has already granted patents for inventions by computers, the issue of computer inventorship has never been explicitly considered by the courts, Congress or the Patent Office."
The US Copyright Office does have a 'human authorship requirement', but this may change. "Treating non-humans as inventors would incentivise the creation of intellectual property by encouraging the development of creative computers," professor Abbott added.
The Creativity Machine was invented by computer scientist Dr Stephen Thaler. It is based on neural network AI and can generate novel ideas. Dr Thaler claimed that, after exposing it to his music collection, it wrote 11,000 new songs in a single weekend.
The system was Dr Thaler's first patented invention, but his second, a Neural Network-Based Prototyping System and Method, was created not by Dr Thaler but by his first patented invention.
A multi-talented machine, it was also responsible for devising the Oral-B CrossAction toothbrush, according to professor Abbott, but hasn't received the credit it deserves.
"Creative computers may require a rethinking of the baseline standard for inventiveness, and potentially of the entire patent system," he said.
He suggested that computers could also be used to help adjudicate patents for their inventiveness and, hence, validity. µ
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