The New Zealand Patent Office has declined an application to have an Artificial Intelligence system registered as the inventor of a patent.

The creator of an AI system filed patent applications across multiple jurisdictions claiming that the system is the inventor of a food and beverage container. The applications have been declined in Germany, the UK, the US, Australia, and, recently, New Zealand.

The question was whether Artificial Intelligence can qualify as a “natural person” for the purposes of The Patents Act 2013. This is an issue because only a natural person can be listed as an inventor in the patent application process. Without that the patent application would not be able to meet the formal requirements.

It was argued that the AI system created the food and beverage container without any human contribution and was therefore the inventor.

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand declined the application, stating that the Patents Act was “drafted, and has always been applied, on the assumption that an ‘inventor’ is a human being” and that a machine “is not a person under the law”. It follows that AI cannot be an inventor under the Patents Act 2013.

Had AI been found to be an inventor for the purposes of the Act, this would have marked a shift in New Zealand’s legal landscape. It would mean that inventions created autonomously by Artificial Intelligence could be eligible for registration and protection under the Patents Act 2013.

At this point, it is unclear whether there will be an appeal against IPONZ’s decision or whether the law may need to be amended to catch up to what is happening with Artificial Intelligence machines creating inventions.


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