All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Managing IP is part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC group.

DABUS: South Africa issues first-ever patent with AI inventor

artificial-intelligence-min-final.jpg

Despite the world first, South Africa’s IP office does not formally examine patents – so the registration could yet be opposed

South Africa has become the first country to issue a patent designating an artificial intelligence tool – DABUS – as the inventor and the machine’s owner as the patent owner.

The patent was published in South Africa’s Patent Journal yesterday, July 28, with legal representatives Ryan Abbott and Von Seidels both confirming the news.

However, South Africa does not offer formal examination and instead requires applicants to merely complete a filing for their invention. The same patent has already been rejected in the UK, the US and at the EPO.

Related stories

The invention was generated by DABUS (Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience), which was created by Stephen Thaler, CEO of Imagination Engines. He has now been listed as the owner of the patent in South Africa.

In an interview with Managing IP, Thaler described DABUS as human-like, saying it is “sentient and develops ideas”. DABUS-created inventions include an emergency warning light and a food container that improves grip and heat transfer.

With the patent now officially granted by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, South Africa’s IP office, it is open to objection based on novelty and inventiveness.

Abbott – who has led a group of attorneys on behalf of DABUS and Thaler – hailed it as a crucial development in AI.

“We see this issuance as a key step towards recognition of the importance of encouraging individuals and companies to make, develop and use AI to generate socially valuable innovations.

“As AI continues to advance and to increasingly perform human sorts of activities, this will result in a host of challenges and opportunities for businesses, including with respect to disputes.”

The patent is the subject of parallel pending proceedings including in the US, UK, Germany, Australia and at the EPO.

Abbott himself argued in one of the cases this week at the England and Wales Court of Appeal, which is hearing the case after the High Court upheld a UKIPO ruling that DABUS could not be deemed the inventor of the patent.

more from across site and ros bottom lb

More from across our site

The executive director lost a key vote at a meeting of the EUIPO management and budget committee on Tuesday, November 22
We provide a rundown of Managing IP’s news and analysis coverage from the week, and review what’s been happening elsewhere in IP
Law firms’ reliance on billable hours is hampering diversity and wellbeing, suggests INTA, but both sides of the profession must club together to enact change
In his first interview in the role, Klaus Grabinski outlines how the UPC will deal with outstanding issues such as potential conflicts and problems with the CMS
Daniel Chew speaks to Managing IP about his plans for the coming year and how UK attorneys can seize the day at the UPC
It’s easy for lawyers to drag their clients to court, but settling disputes amicably could often be a win-win scenario for everyone
Qualcomm’s vice president and legal counsel, John Scott, reflects on the rise of litigation finance and what he wants in private practice lawyers
Klaus Grabinski addressed the controversy over part-time UPC judges in an exclusive interview with Managing IP
Counsel at four US law firms say forming relationships, sending legal updates and demonstrating data have helped them snag a lot of work
Blockchain-related patent applications are on the rise, but could run into Section 101 challenges