Artificial intelligence is breaking patent law: can AI be the inventor?

May 24, 2022

"The patent system assumes that inventors are human. Inventions devised by machines require their own intellectual property law and an international treaty."

"In 2020, a machine-learning algorithm helped researchers to develop a potent antibiotic that works against many pathogens (see Nature; 2020). Artificial intelligence (AI) is also being used to aid vaccine development, drug design, materials discovery, space technology and ship design. Within a few years, numerous inventions could involve AI. This is creating one of the biggest threats patent systems have faced.

Patent law is based on the assumption that inventors are human; it currently struggles to deal with an inventor that is a machine. Courts around the world are wrestling with this problem now as patent applications naming an AI system as the inventor have been lodged in more than 100 countries1. Several groups are conducting public consultations on AI and intellectual property (IP) law, including in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe."

by Alexandra George and Toby Walsh

Artificial intelligence is breaking patent law ( 

Nature 605, 616-618 (2022)