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EPO Board of Appeal Refuses Applications with Non-Human Inventor

Yesterday, 21 December 2021, the EPO's Legal Board of Appeal dismissed the applicant's appeal in respect of the two European patent applications that attempted to name a computer system as the sole inventor. This is the latest decision in the long-running and widespread attempts by Dr Stephen Thaler and his legal team to gain recognition for machines as inventors within the patent system. The full reasons for the Board's decision will be published later, but a brief Press Communiqué has been issued by the EPO.

It appears that the Board has substantively agreed with the decisions of the EPO's Receiving Section (reported here) that, under the EPC, the inventor has to be a person with legal capacity and so the applicant's main request, naming the computer system DABUS as the sole inventor, was not allowable.

The Board also dismissed an alternative proposal from the applicant that provided a statement that no person had been identified as inventor, but merely that a natural person was indicated to have "the right to the European Patent by virtue of being the owner and creator of" the artificial intelligence system DABUS. This was considered to be contrary to the requirement in Article 60(1) EPC that the right to a European patent belongs to the inventor or his successor in title.

The full written decision is likely to provide a more in-depth analysis of the underlying law and reasoning but, with no further levels of appeal available at the EPO, this appears to be the end of the road for these European applications.