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Intellectual Property Insights from Fishman Stewart PLLC
Newsletter – Volume 21, Issue 16

World’s First: Artificial Intelligence Earns Patent as an Inventor

By Art Hallman

In a previous edition of Fish Tank, we reviewed issues surrounding Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) as possible “inventors.” There, we reported that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) declared AI cannot be an inventor because it is not a natural person. The AI at issue involved an AI system called Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience (DABUS), which was created by AI pioneer Stephen Thaler. DABUS ultimately created designs for an emergency flashing warning light and a food container including improved grip and heat transfer. Thaler filed several patent applications worldwide for these inventions listing DABUS as the sole inventor.

On July 28, 2021, South Africa became the first country in the world to award a patent with AI as its inventor. Here, the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), South Africa’s IP office, officially granted the patent, listing DABUS as the inventor and Thaler as the patent owner.

Additionally, on July 30, 2021, the Federal Court of Australia in Thaler v. Commissioner of Patents [2021] FCA 879, found that an AI system can be an inventor. Here, Justice Beach found that DABUS can be an inventor and that the term “inventor” can be defined as an agent noun, and that an agent can be a person or thing that invents.
The allowance of the patent in South Africa and the Federal Court ruling in Australia are very important for encouraging individuals and companies to make, develop, and use AI to create socially valuable innovations. These events could be the first step towards wide acceptance of AI inventors around the world. Moreover, this could prompt a larger question for our society: if an AI can become an inventor, should AI also be granted other rights? This is a question that has only been answered in science fiction media.

Fishman Stewart Attorneys Included in Leading Lawyers’ 2021 List of Top Attorneys

Fishman Stewart is pleased to announce that seven of its attorneys have been recognized by Leading Lawyers for the 2021 list of top Michigan attorneys.  Fewer than 5% of Michigan’s licensed attorneys receive this accolade.

Fishman Stewart founding members Michael D. Fishman and Michael B. Stewart were first named to Leading Lawyers’ list of top attorneys in 2014, shortly after the organization began surveying attorneys across the state of Michigan.  In addition, Fishman is a member of the Leading Lawyers Advisory Board. To be considered for the board, candidates are required to have an exceptional number of recommendations from their Michigan peers, an impeccable reputation for professionalism, and a knowledge of lawyers in their area of law and region of the state.

The following Fishman Stewart attorneys have been recognized by Leading Lawyers’ 2021 list of top attorneys in their category of distinction:

Leading Lawyers, a division of the Law Bulletin Media, surveys thousands of attorneys statewide to identify lawyers most often recommended by their peers. Lawyers cannot nominate themselves or anyone at their own law firm. Fewer than five percent of all lawyers licensed to practice law in a given state can be named a Leading Lawyer. Learn more at