Can an artificial intelligence (AI) machine be named as an inventor in Australia? – the latest update!

A Full Bench of the Australian Federal Court has issued a decision, allowing an appeal by the Australian Commissioner of Patents to overturn last year’s Court ruling which had made Australia the first and only country in the world to formally recognise an artificial intelligence (AI) machine as an inventor in a patent application.

Initially, in February 2021, a deputy of the Australian Commissioner of Patents refused a patent application which named “DABUS”, an AI machine, as the sole inventor on the grounds that it did not comply with Australian Patent Regulations.

In July 2021, a single justice of the Australian Federal Court determined that an inventor under Australia’s patent legislation could in fact be an AI machine, as we reported here, and allowed the patent application to proceed.

Now, in this latest decision, issued on 13 April 2022, an expanded Full Bench (i.e. five justices) of the Australian Federal Court unanimously ruled that an inventor named on a patent application must be a natural person. Interestingly, the Court did not exclude the possibility that a patent could be granted for an invention devised by an AI system—provided that a human is named as the inventor.

A further appeal to the High Court of Australia may yet be filed… stay tuned!