“We are moving from an age in which invention was the preserve of people to an era where machines are capable of realizing the inventive step.” – Professor Adrian Hilton
South Africa’s patent office has granted the first patent for an invention conceived by an artificial intelligence (AI) inventor, DABUS. The country does not have a substantive patent examination system, and thus the significance of the acceptance may not be as great as it would be in other jurisdictions—but the DABUS team is celebrating.
The patent is for “a food container based on fractal geometry,” and was accepted by South Africa’s Companies and Intellectual Property Commission on June 24. The notice of issuance was published in the July 2021 Patent Journal.
DABUS stands for “device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified sentience” and it has attempted to procure patents in the European Union, United Kingdom and United States with no luck. Most recently, the European Patent Office (EPO) Board of Appeal (BOA) issued two preliminary communications in appeals of the EPO’s rejection of the DABUS patents in which the BOA agreed with the EPO’s January 2020 decisions, and said that, under the European Patent Convention (EPC), an inventor on a patent application must have “legal capacity,” meaning the “ability, according to a source of law, to be the subject of rights and duties.” Oral proceedings are scheduled for December 21, 2021.