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US patent office confirms AI can’t hold patents

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) maintains that artificial intelligence systems cannot be named inventors, but humans can use AI tools in the process of creating patented inventions and must disclose if they do.

The agency published its latest guidance following a series of “listening” tours to gather public feedback. It states that while AI systems and other “non-natural persons” can’t be listed as inventors in patent applications, “the use of an AI system by a natural person does not preclude a natural person from qualifying as an inventor.” People seeking patents must disclose if they used AI in the invention process, just as the USPTO asks all applicants to list all material information necessary to make a decision.

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