Artificial Intelligence is alive and well.

Forget the hover cars and cities floating in space. Ex Machina has come to life and wants the right to obtain a patent. While we sit at home waiting for our Alexa’s to tell us what to do, courts wrestle with the newest challenge – honoring artificial intelligence with innovative, intellectual property.

To make things more difficult, not everyone agrees on the issue. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema made headlines by denying A.I. the right to be granted a patent. It’s not a forever decision; the judge just stipulated that now is not the time. For a U.S. patent, the applicant must take an oath, which wouldn’t be possible as an A.I. is not considered a ‘natural person’ under current patent law.

Artificial Intelligence Owns a Patent in South Africa.

South Africa on the other hand, broke the mold and granted the world’s first patent to an invention that evolved from A.I. In short, the A.I. autonomously created a design for a geometric container while running one of its programs. For the record, the National Law Review commented that requirements for patents in South Africa aren’t as rigorous as the United States and other countries. However, this is a game-changer and foreshadows potential changes to U.S. considerations regarding intellectual property.

There are a lot of things to consider here. If A.I. is granted a patent, does the invention fall under the public or private domain? How should the law be changed to include a robot that cannot truly give an oath or promise? What constitutes ‘natural persons’? And to challenge things further – why wouldn’t the creator of the A.I. be able to submit for the patent?


Intellectual Property Attorney.

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Francine D. Ward
Attorney-At-Law, Author, Speaker

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