Inventorship in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

17 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2020 Last revised: 3 Jun 2021

See all articles by Alfred Frueh

Alfred Frueh

University of Basel - Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 3, 2021


Artificial Intelligence is shaking up patent law. One of the most important questions in this regard is whether current patent laws adequately deal with increasing machine autonomy when it comes to inventorship. This paper uses two examples, namely Robot Scientists in drug development and antenna design in electrical engineering, to gauge the current level of machine automation in industrial production. A legal assessment carried out on this basis shows that the current use of the term inventorship is not future-proof and calls for policy adjustments: Patent law’s procedural provisions need to be amended and must overcome the requirement that only a human being can be an inventor. Moreover, droit moral considerations should be eliminated from substantive patent law altogether. Both measures would restore transparency in the patent register, reflecting the actual inventive activity.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Inventorship, Patent Law, Automated Drug Design

Suggested Citation

Frueh, Alfred, Inventorship in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (June 3, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Alfred Frueh (Contact Author)

University of Basel - Faculty of Law ( email )

United States

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