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Petition for AI Rights Denied by US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the petition to review the federal court’s decision that says that artificial intelligence (AI) cannot be listed as an inventor. The petition was filed by Stephen Thaler, who wanted to give credit to his AI for inventing two products.

AI models like ChatGPT have become common knowledge this year, but computer scientist Thaler has been working with AI for over a decade. Thaler is the founder of Imagination Engines and has been heavily involved in developing generative artificial neural networks, which power tools like ChatGPT.

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Thaler’s work has led to the development of an AI system that he calls DABUS, and it was for this AI that Thaler has been seeking inventor status.

Why AI needs inventor status

Publicly, Thaler has credited DABUS for coming up with the ideas for two inventions – a fractal food container and a unique pattern for the emergency light beacon. Unique in their concepts, Thaler filed for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and listed DABUS as the inventor.

The patent office rejected Thaler’s application since its rules allow only “natural persons” to apply for patents and not machines. Thaler then sued the director of USPTO, Andrei Iancu, in a federal court in eastern Virginia. Two years later, the court ruled in favor of the USPTO, and Thaler then approached the U.S. Court of Appeals, where he lost the case as well.

Finally, Thaler approached the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the country, with the power to overturn initial verdicts. However, on Monday, the Supreme Court denied the petition, meaning it will not hear the case, and Thaler must accept that DABUS can never be a creator in the U.S.

Thaler hasn’t given up, though, and is hopeful that the U.S. Congress might someday decide to change the patent law and even allow AI to be listed as an inventor. Thaler is of the view that this change is necessary if the U.S. wishes to maintain its leadership position in the world of innovations.

Thaler believes that not granting AI software this status will hamper progress since the intellectual property will be withheld from developers who may be inspired to build upon it, The Register reported. He also added that doing so will prevent humans from stealing ideas from AI and passing them as their own.

Thaler also has a similar case pending in the courts of the U.K. and could hear about the decision later this year. In 2021 though, South Africa became the first country in the world to credit AI for a patent. The honors went to none other than DABUS.