DABUS gains territory in South Africa and Australia: Revisiting the AI-inventorship question

Author Desmond Osaretin Oriakhogba

ISSN: 2521-2591
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, Department of Mercantile and Private Law, University of Venda
Source: South African Intellectual Property Law Journal, 2021, p. 87 – 108


This paper draws from and builds upon DO Oriakhogba ‘What If DABUS Came to Africa? Visiting AI Inventorship and Ownership of Patent from the Nigerian Perspective’ (2021) 42(2) Business Law Review 89. It reviews the recent granting of a patent by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) to Dr Stephen Thaler in respect of the DABUS-generated invention in South Africa and the judgment of the Australian Federal Court (FCA) upholding AI-inventorship. The review, which is based on desk research, is conducted against a backdrop of statutory provisions and case law from both countries, the provisions of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and relevant literature dealing with the inventorship question. The paper determines whether, without reform of the extant patent law and policy, recognition of artificial intelligence (AI) as an inventor does not undermine the foundational concept of human inventorship, and the central focus on human creation and agency for intellectual property protection in South Africa and Australia. In connection with this, the paper asks and examines the question of whether the CIPC patent grant and the FCA judgment can stand judicial scrutiny under the extant patent regimes in South Africa and Australia.