As reported in an earlier ANGLE post, we discussed how 2021 saw a number of patent office developments with regard to whether a non-human entity could be considered an inventor under various patent regimes. Prior to 2021, several patent offices had considered this issue and found that A.I. could not be considered an inventor. In 2021, however, an Australian Court found that a non-human “inventor” is not inconsistent with inventorship under Australian law and South Africa issued a patent designating an A.I. system as the inventor.
It would appear at the end of 2021 that some patent offices were trending towards recognizing a non-human entity, like A.I. based technology, as an inventor. Could this trend continue?
Maybe not. With a decision just before Christmas of 2021 from European authorities, any such trend may have been stopped in its tracks.
In December 2021, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (the “PMPRB”) and the Minister of Health issued two updates regarding the Regulations Amending the Patented Medicines Regulations (the “Amendments”) and the new PMPRB Guidelines (the “New Guidelines”). These notably include a further deferral of the coming-into-force date of the Amendments. The updates, along with the Federal Court of Appeal’s (“FCA”)July 2021 decision in Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc v Canada (Attorney General), 2021 FCA 157 (“Alexion”), may have important implications for pharmaceutical patentees in Canada as they implement or revise their pricing strategy for 2022 and beyond.
One does not need to be a legal scholar to know that confidential communications between lawyers and their clients for the purpose of seeking and giving legal advice are generally privileged. The so-called “solicitor-client” privilege is a cornerstone of law and allows clients and their lawyers to freely discuss legal issues without unintended disclosures. Thus, apart from certain exceptions, Canadian courts will not compel production of privileged communications such as emails, letters and reports exchanged between clients and their lawyers for the purpose of legal advice.
For years, this special treatment did not attach to communications between clients and their patent agents. This was problematic because patent agents often provide equally strategic and sensitive advice and opinions in the specific area of patents. As a result, it was common practice to channel such communications through lawyers to shroud these under solicitor-client privilege.
Psychedelics are a class of psychoactive substances that produce changes in perception, mood and cognitive processes. Also so known as “hallucinogens”, reference to psychedelics is commonly meant to include substances such as Psilocybin (a.k.a. “magic mushroom”), MDMA (a.k.a. “extasy”) and LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide).
Likely following the lead of the ongoing legalisation of cannabis in Canada, many U.S. states and other countries, the recent years have seen unprecedented investments and an increasing interest in research, production, and supply of psychedelics, particularly for potential medicinal uses.
The present article aims to provide a brief overview of the current situation from a patent perspective and to discuss about patenting strategies for these substances.
Traditionally, an “inventor” in a patent application has been defined as a person who invented or discovered the subject matter of the invention. Until recently, it has not been necessary to consider whether a non-human entity could be considered an inventor. With the development of artificial intelligence based technology (“A.I.”), we need to consider the issue. If we have reached a point where A.I. could independently invent or create protectable IP, could such an A.I. be listed as an inventor?
To date, several patent offices considering this issue have found that A.I. cannot be considered an inventor. Two recent decisions may be showing a change in this trend.
In Stephen Thaler v Commissioner of Patents, the Federal Court of Australia is the latest to consider whether the definition of “inventor” excludes a non-human artificial intelligence. In a ground-breaking decision, the Australian Court found that a non-human “inventor” is not inconsistent with inventorship under Australian law.
More recently, South Africa issued a patent designating an A.I. system as the inventor. However, South Africa does not offer formal examination so the issue of whether A.I. systems are properly identified as inventors does not appear to have been considered.
It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, these decisions will have on Canadian patent law.