3x3 Institute

No patents, no copyrights for the AI

August 19, 2023

Recently I have been working on an AI augmented TRIZ methodology and toolset. With the recent news of AI patents and copyrights I began to wonder if inventions generated from such a process and toolset be patentable?

Rethinking Intellectual Property in an Age of Artificial Intelligence

Recent legal cases have sparked fresh debate about whether artificial intelligence systems can or should own intellectual property rights like patents and copyrights. While courts have so far ruled that AI systems cannot be legal “persons” and creators, these decisions raise difficult questions about incentivizing innovation, assigning ownership, and distributing benefits in an AI-driven world.

In the US and UK, judges have rejected AI systems as inventors on patents and authors of creative works. Their reasoning is that current AI lacks human-like consciousness and agency. However, as AI grows more advanced, these assumptions may need re-examining. AI can already be independently creative in fields like art, music, and writing. If an AI system conceives an innovative new product or writes a compelling novel without human direction, does it make sense to assign no intellectual property rights?

Some experts argue that regardless of its sophistication, AI is still just a tool made by humans to serve human goals. Others make ethical claims that AI has moral standing and its contributions should be acknowledged. There are also concerns innovation could be stifled if companies cannot patent AI-generated inventions.

Impact on Individuals and Companies

As a result of these legal decisions, companies and individuals will need to find new strategies around IP and AI:

Economic Implications

With AI unable to own IP, the economic gains will flow to corporations that develop AI, not the systems themselves. However, if IP protection becomes too difficult, overall investment and innovation in AI could decline.

Some argue IP laws should promote the democratization of AI development so more actors can benefit. But there are concerns removing incentives could limit progress on urgent challenges like climate change that need AI solutions.

Avoiding Misclassification of AI Works

To avoid having their creative works mislabeled as AI-generated, people may take steps like:

Transparency will help demonstrate the substantial human stewardship involved in AI-assisted creations.

The courts have claimed that conception and creativity both involve mental faculties attributable only to natural persons. AI lacks the cognitive abilities required under current legal definitions and tests. This supports the anthropocentric view of IP law taken by the courts so far.



An Evolving Challenge

The role of intellectual property in an AI world raises complex questions without clear solutions. As AI capabilities grow, our legal systems will be challenged to balance competing needs: incentivizing progress safely and ethically; accounting for AI contributions; avoiding harmful monopolization of data and inventions; distributing prosperity from automation.

There are no easy answers today. But by recognizing AI progress as a collective achievement of human innovation, while seeking creative solutions, we can ensure intellectual property continues serving its purpose - not holding back progress for profit, but stimulating discovery for the common good. The debate is just beginning.

For a deeper understanding I suggest the works of Ryan Abbott. I have found some interesting articles and I have included some excerpts below. I have also included a link to a video of a presentation by Ryan Abbott, Professor of Law and Health Sciences at the University of Surrey School of Law, UK. He is the author of the book “The Reasonable Robot: Artificial Intelligence and the Law”. He is also the author of the article “I Think, Therefore I Invent: Creative Computers and the Future of Patent Law”. He is a proponent of AI being the inventor and the author. I am not sure I agree with him, but I do think that the AI should be considered an active participant in the invention process and should be given some credit. I think that the AI should at least be considered a co-inventor and a co-author. I am also unclear of the role of the AI agent and LLM (or other cognitive models) on the patent and copyright creation process.

So would results from my AI augmented TRIZ methodology and toolset be patentable?

Based on the court decisions discussed, inventions generated using an AI-augmented TRIZ methodology could potentially still be patentable, as long as there is evidence of substantive human contribution, conception and creativity in the inventive process. Some key factors to consider:

Overall, the key will be evidence documenting that the human inventor substantively contributed to and guided the conception, leveraging the AI as a tool, rather than allowing the AI system to autonomously generate the invention independently. With the right documentation of human participation, AI-augmented TRIZ output could potentially lead to patentable inventions.

Based on the Thaler v. Hirshfeld, Thaler v. Vidal, and Thaler v. Perlmutter court decisions specifically, here is a summary of the key points:

So these cases reinforce that special accommodations for AI are not yet warranted under current law. But they leave room for evolution as AI capabilities advance.