Australian Federal High Court Becomes First to Recognise AI Inventorship

The Australian Federal Court has ruled that artificial intelligence (AI) systems can be inventors of patentable inventions in a landmark case – Thaler v. Commissioner of Patents [2021] FCA 879. Justice Jonathan Beach handed down his ruling noting that an inventor could legally be an AI system.

The Australian Federal Court’s decision recognising DABUS as an inventor came right after a similar patent grant by the South African Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). This is the first judicial determination in the world in favour of AI systems being named as an inventor of a patent. The Federal Court judge noted that allowing artificial intelligence systems and humans to be inventors is consistent with promoting innovation. Moreover, the Australian Patents Act does not define an inventor, so AI as inventors is not inconsistent with the Patents Act. The federal court judge accordingly sent the matter back to the commission for reconsideration, but the possibility exist that the Commissioner of Patents may likely appeal this decision.

These developments stand in contrast to the decisions in other jurisdictions such as the UK, Europe, and the US, where equivalent applications to the DABUS Application were rejected and are still the subject of parallel pending proceedings. It is still uncertain if this decision would have a significant impact on the pending proceedings in other jurisdictions.

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