The UK patent office has made a sensible clarification of its Formalities Manual in response to some test cases filed recently to see if an AI can be named as an inventor in the UK. The UK Patents Act leaves no doubt that an inventor is a person (see Patents Act Section 7(2)(a) read together with Section 7(2)(b)). There is therefore no room for an AI to be an inventor until such time as a programmed machine can be considered a person in a legal sense.

UK patent law requires an inventor to be the deviser of an invention (Patents Act Section 7(3)) and hence any invention needs to be devised by a person. It therefore follows that if something has not been devised by a person, it is not an invention and hence falls outside that for which patents can be obtained in the UK. Therefore a concept created by a machine without intervention from a person seems to be incapable of being patented in the UK as it stands. There may be a debate as to whether the legislation should be amended to allow for such a possibility but this is not the kind of question the patent office gets to decide on.

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