Patent Law at the AI Crossroads

Smart robots seem to be everywhere. Whether they’re performing surgery, trouncing Go champions or generating dreamy artwork, computers programmed to learn on their own are growing more intelligent by the day. Southwestern Law School professor Ryan Abbott believes that computers are even generating patentable subject matter. We just don’t know about it, he says, because disclosing it on an application might render the invention unpatentable. “Now that very large companies like IBM, Pfizer and Google are investing heavily in creative computing, it’s going to play a much greater role in innovation in the future,” he says. But without clearer rules around inventorship, disputes over the rights to those innovations are inevitable. “Sometime before the end of the decade, we’re very likely to see two inventors fighting over the assignment where…


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