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US Patent Office Issues Guidance on AI Inventors

  • USPTO: AI cannot be inventors. Humans must disclose AI use in patents. Significant human contribution required for inventorship.
  • Constructing AI prompts crucial. Mere oversight doesn't grant inventorship. Previous rulings support human-centric patent system.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has released new guidance on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the patent application process, outlining the parameters under which AI-generated inventions can be patented. The announcement comes after a series of consultations with stakeholders aimed at addressing the complexities arising from the increasing use of AI in innovation.

AI Systems Cannot Be Named as Inventors

In its latest guidance, the USPTO has made it clear that AI systems and other “non-natural persons” cannot be designated as inventors in patent applications. This decision underscores the agency’s stance on recognising human creativity and contribution in the invention process.

Disclosure of AI Use Required

Individuals who utilise AI tools in the invention process are required to disclose this information when applying for a patent. This disclosure aligns with the USPTO’s requirement for applicants to provide all material information necessary for a patent decision.

To be registered, the person using the AI must have contributed significantly to the invention’s conception. The mere act of instructing an AI system or overseeing its output does not automatically confer inventorship.

Table: Key Points of the USPTO Guidance

Key PointsExplanation
AI Systems Cannot Be Named as InventorsAI and other “non-natural persons” cannot be designated as inventors.
Disclosure of AI Use RequiredIndividuals must disclose the use of AI tools in the invention process when applying for a patent.
Significant Contribution RequiredInventorship is contingent upon making a significant contribution to the invention’s conception.
Constructing the PromptThe manner in which the prompt is constructed to elicit a specific solution from the AI system can demonstrate contribution.
Intellectual Domination Not SufficientMerely owning or overseeing an AI system does not grant inventorship rights.
Previous RulingsPrevious rulings affirm that only “natural humans” can apply for patents.

Significant Contribution Required

According to the USPTO, a person seeking patent rights must demonstrate a substantial input into the conception of the invention. This could involve constructing the prompt given to the AI system in a manner that directs it towards a particular solution. Mere intellectual domination over an AI system, without an active contribution to the inventive process, does not qualify an individual as an inventor.

Previous Rulings

The USPTO’s guidance builds upon previous rulings, including a 2020 decision where the office denied a petition to list an AI system as an inventor in a patent application. Similarly, a federal court ruled that AI systems cannot be granted copyright, affirming the principle that legal recognition of intellectual property rights is reserved for natural persons.


The US Patent and Trademark Office’s latest guidance on AI inventors clarifies the agency’s position on recognising human creativity and contribution in the patent application process. While AI tools can aid innovation, inventorship remains contingent upon a significant contribution from a natural person. This development underscores the ongoing dialogue surrounding the intersection of AI and intellectual property rights, shaping the landscape for future innovation and legal interpretation.



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