Although this blog typically focuses on decisions rendered in intellectual property and/or antitrust cases currently in or that originated in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware or are in the Federal Circuit, every now and then there is a decision rendered in another federal trial or appellate court that is significant enough it warrants going beyond the normal boundaries. The recent decision rendered by The Honorable Leonie M. Brinkema, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, in Thaler v. Hirshfeld et al., Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-903-LMB (E.D.Va. September 2, 2021), is such a decision.
In Thaler, the Court confronted, analyzed and answered the question of “can an artificial intelligence machine be an ‘inventor’ under the Patent Act?” Id. at *1. After analyzing the plain statutory language of the Patent Act and the Federal Circuit authority, the Court held that the “clear answer is no.” Id. In reaching its holding, the Court found that “Congress intended to limit the definition of ‘inventor’ to natural persons” which means humans – not artificial intelligence. Id. at *17. The Court noted that, “[a]s technology evolves, there may come a time when artificial intelligence reaches a level of sophistication such that it might satisfy accepted meanings of inventorship. But that time has not yet arrived, and, if it does, it will be up to Congress to decide how, if at all, it wants to expand the scope of patent law.” Id. at *17-18.
A copy of the Memorandum Opinion is attached.