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UK Supreme Court set for DABUS appeal

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The UK’s top court will rule on whether the country’s patent law requires an inventor to be a human after an influential judge gave the DABUS team hope last year

The UK Supreme Court will hear a keenly awaited appeal over whether an artificial intelligence tool can be named as the inventor on a patent application tomorrow, March 2.

The hearing, which Managing IP will report live from, is the culmination of a legal campaign led by computer scientist Stephen Thaler and lawyer and academic Ryan Abbott.

Thaler and Abbott, who are part of an organisation called the Artificial Inventor Project, want the court to recognise the AI tool DABUS as the inventor of a patent covering a food storage system.

The project has filed patent applications in major jurisdictions naming DABUS, which was developed by Thaler, as the inventor.

Both the England and Wales High Court and Court of Appeal, as well as the UKIPO, said that UK patent law requires a natural person to be named as the inventor.

In its September 2021 judgment, the Court of Appeal voted 2-1 to reject the DABUS case.

But a dissenting opinion from the influential intellectual property judge Lord Justice Colin Birss gave a glimmer of hope to the DABUS case.

Birss said Thaler had met the requirements set out in the UK Patents Act 1977 by identifying whom he believed to be the inventor.

However, Birss did not comment more generally on whether the law should recognise machines as inventors.

An Australian judge did give a more explicit endorsement of the DABUS team’s position in a landmark Federal Court judgment issued in July 2021 but that finding was overturned last November.

Managing IP will attend the Supreme Court and report on the proceedings tomorrow.

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