A recent Court of Appeal decision has held that AI cannot be the 'inventor' of new patents (Thaler v Comptroller General of Patents Trade Marks and Designs [2021] EWCA Civ 1374).

The crux of the decision was whether "a law written for human inventors can be applied to machines." 

The Court of Appeal decided, with a two-one majority, that an inventor needs to be human, with Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing's reasoning being:

"Only a person can have rights. A machine cannot."

This case brought by Stephen Thaler in the English Courts was part of a concerted effort on his part to address the rights of AI globally. Indeed, he brought similar applications in several other countries, with success achieved the Australian and South African Courts. The US Court, which arguably is one of the most important markets for patents, has agreed with the approach of the English Courts.

There are some academics that are of the view that the law in the area of inventorship needs to be updated in order to take into account the increasing part that machines play in the process of inventions. It will be interesting to see how the law develops globally in the area. We anticipate that the time will come when the scope of the law will need to change.