"Ultimately, this decision has made it clear that any change from this position will require legislative action. Hypothetically, the UK parliament could decide to amend sections 7 and 13 in such a way that an AI system can be designated as an inventor and the owner of the AI system automatically becomes entitled to the patent grant. However, the broader impact on the operation of the patent system, such as on the assessment of the patentability criteria, and more generally, the justifications for these patent monopolies would need to be revisited before such changes can be made," Kakkaiyadi said.
"There will also need to be some level of international harmonisation and recognition of the special case of inventions made by AI systems within the patent framework to avoid widely divergent practices on AI patentability, and perhaps this will come out of the work being done by WIPO," he said.
The WIPO is in the process of hosting a ‘Conversation on IP and AI’ to bring countries around the world together to "discuss the impact of AI on IP, with a view to collectively formulating the questions that policymakers need to ask". One of the questions that has been discussed in the draft issues paper is whether an AI system can be named as an inventor on a patent application, and who would own the rights in that patent when granted.
"Invariably, there is a focus on whether the existing patent system can deal with inventions created by AI systems or whether it needs to be modified in some way to address inventions created by AI systems," Kakkaiyadi said. "A variety of responses ranging from, yes, existing patent systems can deal with these inventions as is, to no, a separate sui generis system of rights – which would not be limited by the constraints of the existing patent system – needs to be created for these inventions are being proposed."