India: Is It Possible To Patent Artificial Intelligence?

Last Updated: 2 January 2019
Article by Sharmeen Shaikh
Most Read Contributor in India, January 2019

Since eons, humans have tried to create convenience. Be it the kindling of a fire or the development of the technology of a smart phone that detects your location and is linked to your bank account, humans have constantly tried to create a technology, that stands on par with the functioning of normal human brain.

However, in the bid to develop convenience, we have now outdone ourselves and hence, there is a constant endeavour to develop a substitute to a human brain and the understanding that it holds. Humans are considered the best creation. And to recreate and sustain this masterpiece unnaturally, is called the development of an artificial intelligence.

John McCarthy, a computer scientist, coined the term "Artificial Intelligence." In his article 'Ascribing Mental Qualities to Machines,' he states that, "Machines as simple as thermostats can be said to have beliefs, and having beliefs seems to be a characteristic of most machines capable of problem-solving performance." Also, in the year 1966, McCarthy and his team at Stanford wrote the first ever computer programme, which was designed and used to play the game of Chess with his counterparts in the Soviet Union, wherein McCarthy's teams lost two games and drew two games.

Thus, the emergence of artificial intelligence, or synonymously knows as the AI, is rapid, which is further fuelled by the constant need to develop a technology that is as smart and as efficient as a human. The purpose is to reduce the burden of mankind and to provide an apt and a cost-effective assistance. A machine or a robot would relatively take a lesser amount of time to absorb and implement instructions and would give double the amount of efficiency, as compared to a human. But more importantly, it is to create something that imitates or thinks like a human.

It is essentially and inter-disciplinary science, involving branches such as sociology, biology, maths, psychology, philosophy, computer science and neuroscience.

Just in the past few years alone, it sparked front-page news stories when AI machines beat human Jeopardy champions, defeated the best human Go player in the world, acted undetected for months as a teaching assistant to students at the Georgia Institute of Technology, reported on the 2016 Rio Olympic games, and got retained as a bankruptcy lawyer. In the light of such advancement, one cannot ignore the importance, and maybe, the brilliance of AI, and the gradual dependence of the human society on machines.

Furthermore, in the year 2017, Mayfield Robotics, which was initially a part a part of the Bosch Startup Platform, announced the launch of CES 2017,also knows as Kuri,  a home robot which was demoed and celebrated at TED, SXSW, The Aspen Ideas Festival, The Economist Innovation Summit, and many other high-profile events. Kuri was launched as an intelligent robot, which would be a useful assistant at home. You could them out in the wild, or helping disabled people with routine tasks. It was designed to be an all-purpose companion, almost like a member of a family.

The development of AI has a very obvious by product: the protection and the regulated use of the invention or the techniques that promote such an invention. But, can AI be truly protected via the existing Patent laws? If so, who gets the patent, the owner, inventor, programmer or the AI itself?

Alternately, in case of the eligibility of granting a patent to a computer-generated invention, there are three basic scenarios that would be probable:

  • The computer would be granted the patent
  • The owner of the computer would be granted a patent
  • The person/s who have assembled the hardware in such a way so as to generate an invention, would be granted the patent

One might also state that since the AI isn't a human, it isn't eligible to apply for a patent. However, the laws recognise the existence of a legal person, apart from a natural person.

The procedure to gather a patent for the AI would be accessible. But the burning question is, is it really possible to patent a technology, which is subject to the dynamic nature of the society? An entity like an AI is mandated by the necessity to change and evolve with the changing times and attitudes of humans. It would be a difficult task to patent every single software that facilitates a change, even if we predict the changes that humans as a society or as intellectual beings, may undergo.

But after all, who gets the patent? An inventor has put his/her heart and soul in the invention. But, the programmer of the invention has an equally important role to play. Also, can a person, who purchases or lawfully owns the patent, thereby also owning the technology, be excluded from granting of the patent? Last, but not the least, the AI itself. Since the AI is infused with a programming and function, similar to that of humans, can we consider granting the patent to the AI itself? After all, it now possesses the understanding to demarcate between being an individual self and belonging to something or someone else. Would it be injustice, if the AI was considered an object, not a parallel human?

Another issue at hand would be that if an AI commits a breach, whether of law or rules prescribed for the human society, would it be held individually responsible for its actions, and penalised? If not, who would be vicariously liable?

One might argue that since the IP laws and rights were designed to protect and benefit the inventors and since an invention is a creation of mind, it implies the presence of a human and excludes all other categories. However, several IP Laws were drafted before the emergence of the AI on the global scenario and the prerequisite of a patent to be granted only to a human being per se isn't mentioned explicitly. The World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPOs) definition of Intellectual Property talks about creations of the mind but does not specify whether it must be a human mind. But, despite the encompassing nature of the definition, and several laws that support and encourage this change, it remains a difficult task to identify, let alone grant, the true owner of the rights and benefits of a patent.


In the above scheme of things, it is safe to say the concept of AI, be it ever evolving, is yet to be in tandem with the legal and other aspects of the society. It is yet to gain compatibility with the patent laws on a global level.  Apart from encouraging creativity, there should be a cohesive effort to regulate and organise the growth of this humongous field. The idea of creating a humanoid or the concept replacement of human intelligence with machines and bots may sound futuristic and brazen, but will ultimately have a lasting impact on the mankind as a whole.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Sign Up
Gain free access to lawyers expertise from more than 250 countries.
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Newsalert
Select Topics
Select Regions
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions