When is an inventor not an inventor? It’s when the inventor isn’t human. So, if a non-human inventor can’t, in the eyes of patent law, be an inventor, what role can the non-human inventor have in the patent system? The answer is straightforward. Even though it can’t create, it can destroy.

In Thaler v. Vidal, 43 F.4th 1207 (Fed. Cir. 2022), cert. denied, 143 S.Ct. 1783 (2023), the Federal Circuit addressed the patentability of an invention for a container for rapidly reheating food. Whether the invention was patentable, however, didn’t turn on the nature of the invention. It turned on the nature of the inventor.