Homography of Inventorship: DABUS and Valuing Inventions
Date posted: 5-16-2022
On July 28, 2021, the Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience (“DABUS”) became the first computer to be recognized as a patent inventor. Due to the advocacy of DABUS’s inventor, Dr. Stephen Thaler, the world’s definition of “inventor” has finally fractured – dividing patent regimes between recognition of machine inventorship and lack thereof. This division has sparked many scholarly conversations about inventorship contribution, but none have discussed the implications of a homographic inventorship. This Article addresses the implications of international homographic inventorship – where countries have different notions and rules concerning patent inventorship – and the consequences for failing to understand the divergences that could result in patent invalidation. This Article adds to the literature by addressing Thaler’s tireless inventorship advocacy, highlighting that Thaler uses his position of privilege to argue for inventorship acknowledgement of his machine and simultaneously to relinquish his own inventorship recognition. To emphasize, there is no existing caselaw except the DABUS case where a potential inventor has argued for the acknowledgement of another inventor and simultaneously relinquished their own recognition – whether that unacknowledged inventor was human or not human. Thaler’s advocacy amplifies the need for continued conversation regarding closing the patent inventorship gap for women and underrepresented minorities of color, who are too often tokenized and marginalized in STEM and in the patent process. By bringing the definition of inventor to the forefront, the DABUS case represents more than just a case of AI inventorship: it is a potential gateway to provide language and arguments to frame conversations about inventorship equity. In particular, the unique instance of Thaler’s inventorship advocacy for his machine prompts questions about why inventors from privileged positions do not advocate for inventors from historically marginalized backgrounds. Based on a review of patent case law and sociology studies concerning power dynamics and communal recognition, this Article provides recommendations to address this issue and accelerate the stagnant process of achieving inventorship equity.
Topic: Patents & Technology
Date posted: 8-21-2022
Most multinational enterprises (MNEs) register their original trademarks in Roman letters in China upon entering the Chinese market. However, many fail to develop and register corresponding Chinese marks because they do not understand local culture and consumers, overvalue consumers’ presumed brand loyalty, or neglect the accompanying trademark issues. This failure enables trademark squatters to register and hold the Chinese marks for ransom or local competitors to free ride on foreign marks using their Chinese translations or transliterations. This Article first introduces the complexity of translating a foreign mark into Chinese, which concerns complex linguistic, cultural, and business challenges. Based on recent court decisions, this Article systematically analyzes the legal basis on which an MNE may claim to protect the Chinese equivalent of its original trademarks. This Article then provides essential business and legal implications of China’s trademark policy toward translating foreign-language marks into Chinese.
Topic: International, Copyright & Trademarks
Date posted: 2-8-2023
Debates over the proper scope of intellectual property protections during the COVID-19 pandemic have occupied newspaper headlines since the first vaccines were developed nearly three years ago. Scholars and key politicians from several nations considered the implementation of a global patent waiver in an effort to make the vaccines more widely available in developing parts of the world. Although the question of whether such a waiver would fulfill this goal remains empirically unanswered and up for debate, the legal structure of United States patent law would make its implementation by Congress difficult given the value placed on intellectual property protections since America’s birth. If lawmakers wish to consider limiting patent rights in an inevitable future pandemic or other national emergency, they would be wise to consider these legal issues ex-ante by revising the Bayh-Dole Act and the existing patent law takings provision.
Topic: Patents & Technology, Health & Biotechnology
Date posted: 3-26-2023
Over the last several years, the demand for socially responsible companies has exploded. Many states have responded to this demand by offering a new corporate form, the public benefit corporation (“PBC”), which arguably allows companies to prioritize social benefit in a way that traditional corporations cannot. The technology industry has adopted the PBC structure at higher rates than corporations in other industries. This Note offers reasons for the appeal of PBCs to corporations generally and to the technology sector in particular. This Note also explores why technology companies may be able to achieve the goals discussed without the need for PBCs.
Topic: eCommerce & Business
Date posted: 3-26-2023
Increasing use of machine learning or “artificial intelligence” (AI) software systems in technical innovation has led some to speculate that perhaps machines might be considered inventors under patent law. While U.S. patent doctrine decisively precludes such a bizarre and counterproductive result, the speculation leads to a more fruitful inquiry about the role of causation in the law of inventorship. U.S. law has almost entirely disregarded causation in determining inventorship, with very few exceptions, some of which are surprising. In this essay, I examine those exceptions to inventive causality, the role they play in determining inventorship, and their effect in excluding consideration of mechanical inventors under current law.
Topic: Patents & Technology