Understand the PL that allows AI to hold patents

What if a machine or artificial intelligence had the right to hold a patent for some invention? Today, under Brazilian legislation, this is impossible. According to article 6 of Law No. 9,279, of May 14, 1996, also known as the Industrial Property Law, someone can only apply for a patent for themselves, successors or heirs. However, Bill 330/2024 tries to change this.

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The proposal was authored by deputy Júnior Mano (PL – CE), who presented it on February 20 of this year. For now, the PL awaits an order from the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira (PL – AL).

What does the PL want to change?

If the matter is approved, inventions generated autonomously by an artificial intelligence system may have patents requested for themselves. As a result, the machine considered the inventor and holder holds the rights inherent to the invention. According to the PL, the change in the Industrial Property Law aims to adapt Brazilian legislation to technological innovations.

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In Congressman Júnior Mano's view, preventing patent applications for AIs creates legal uncertainty and harms technological development. “The recognition of AI systems as holders of patentable inventions can accelerate innovation processes, boosting economic growth and creating new industries and employment opportunities”, says the text.

In the PL, Mano argues that criteria used to make a given invention patentable, such as novelty and industrial applicability, are already met by AIs. Also according to the proposal, allowing patent applications for these systems will promote greater collaboration between humans and machines. The deputy argues that the analytical capacity of AIs enhances human creativity.

Can AIs be considered patent holders in other countries?

The text cites as an example the case of AI DABUS, which was developed to create inventions and which resulted in the application for patents for two products created by the system.

In the United Kingdom, one of the countries where the patent was requested, the Supreme Court denied ownership of the AI. The court understood that, in current UK legislation, the term “inventor” designates a natural person.

The United States and Europe have also indicated that an AI holding the rights to an invention is not acceptable. However, in Australia, the court accepted the request because it understood that there is no provision in the Patent Law that excludes a broader meaning for the word inventor.

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Image: Deemerwha studio/Shutterstock

What do agents in Brazil say about this?

In Brazil, the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) published a note in September 2022 indicating that AIs could not become patent inventors.

The INPI considers that inventions and artistic works are the result of human creation, “not resulting from natural or simply mechanical processes, such as products generated spontaneously on certain things”.

Despite this, the institute considers that possible invention patents generated by AI challenge the current system of protection of intellectual property rights.

According to the agency, patent rules have ignored over the years the possibility that inventions could be created by non-humans. The INPI recognizes that the construction of the Brazilian legal system places individuals at the center and highlights them as holders of rights and obligations.

The institute defends the drafting of specific legislation that deals with inventions produced by machines. But he says that this must follow international treaties to ensure uniformity between national legislation.

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