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AI Inventorship Ruling Inches Closer to Supreme Court Appeal (1)

Oct. 20, 2022, 3:47 PMUpdated: Oct. 20, 2022, 6:02 PM

The nation’s top patent court declined to reexamine inventor Stephen Thaler’s claims that artificial intelligence systems should be recognized as inventors in their own right, clearing the way for his planned Supreme Court appeal.

The Federal Circuit shot down Thaler’s requests for panel and full-court rehearing in an order Thursday, after it ruled in August that the term “individual” in the Patent Act refers only to humans.

Thaler has maintained that his “creativity machine,” called DABUS, is the sole inventor on patent applications for a food container and a light beacon. The US Patent and Trademark Office denied the applications on the basis that there must be a human inventor for an invention to be protected under US law.

Thaler argued to the Federal Circuit that the term “individual” in the Patent Act should be interpreted broadly to fulfill the law’s goal of promoting innovation. Judges during oral argument heavily questioned Thaler’s side on the plain language meaning of “individual” and how there could really be no human involvement in an invention.

Thaler’s attorney—Ryan Abbott of Brown, Neri, Smith & Khan LLP—confirmed that his client still plansto take the case to the Supreme Court.

“We disagree with the Federal Circuit’s holding and do plan to appeal to the Supreme Court,” Abbott said in a statement to Bloomberg Law. “We believe our interpretation is the most consistent with the Patent Act, and that it is the interpretation that promotes innovation.”

The case is Thaler v. Vidal, Fed. Cir., No. 21-02347, rehearing denied 10/20/22.

(Updated with comment from Thaler's counsel.)

With assistance from Samantha Handler

To contact the reporter on this story: Kelcee Griffis in Washington at kgriffis@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Adam M. Taylor at ataylor@bloombergindustry.com; Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com