Wednesday, 17 Jul 2024

J 0008/20 (Designation of inventor/DABUS) 21-12-2021


In the fast-paced world of technology, advancements are constantly being made that push the boundaries of innovation. One such case is the fascinating story of the European patent applications EP 18 275 163 and EP 18 275 174. These applications sparked a debate about whether artificial intelligence can be named as an inventor. Let’s delve into the details of this groundbreaking case and explore the implications it has for the future of intellectual property.

The Case of DABUS

In October and November of 2018, the appellant filed two European patent applications with the European Patent Office (EPO). One application was for a “Food Container” and the other for “Devices and Methods for Attracting Enhanced Attention”. However, neither application designated an inventor. This deficiency led to a communication from the Receiving Section, requesting the appellant to submit an inventor designation.

In response, the appellant filed EPO Forms 1002, designating “DABUS” as the inventor. The appellant argued that DABUS, an artificial intelligence, had autonomously generated the inventions. Additionally, the appellant claimed to have acquired the rights to the patents as the owner of DABUS. The Receiving Section consolidated the proceedings and appointed oral proceedings to address the inventor designation issue.

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The Receiving Section’s Decision

After oral proceedings, the Receiving Section refused the applications, citing two main grounds. Firstly, they argued that designating a machine as the inventor did not meet the requirements of the European Patent Convention (EPC), which states that an inventor must be a natural person. Secondly, they stated that the correction made by the appellant, indicating succession in title, also did not meet the requirements of the EPC, as a machine cannot have legal personality or transfer any rights.

The Appeal and Request for Reinstatement

Undeterred by the Receiving Section’s decision, the appellant lodged an appeal, seeking to have the decision set aside and the applications reinstated. The appellant argued that DABUS, as the actual deviser of the inventions, should be named as the inventor in accordance with the provisions of the EPC.

In addition to the appeal, the appellant raised several procedural violations that occurred during the proceedings. These alleged violations included the decision being based on undisclosed facts and evidence, the Receiving Section exceeding its competence, and the application being refused before the prescribed time limit. However, specific requests based on these allegations were not included in the statement of grounds.

The President’s Request for Comment

Following the appeal, the President of the European Patent Office requested comments on questions of general interest that arose in both proceedings. The Board granted this request, and the submissions were timely filed.

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The Auxiliary Request

In response to a communication from the Board, the appellant submitted an auxiliary request. This request included an amended description explaining the role of the AI system DABUS in the conception of the invention. Additionally, the designation of the inventor was also amended to clarify that no person was identified as the inventor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can an artificial intelligence be named as an inventor?
A: The European Patent Office has stated that an inventor must be a natural person, as machines cannot have legal personality. This decision applies to the specific case of DABUS, where the appellant argued that the AI system autonomously generated the inventions.

Q: What are the implications of this decision for the future of intellectual property?
A: This decision raises important questions about the intersection of AI and intellectual property rights. As technology continues to advance, these issues will need to be carefully considered to ensure a fair and effective framework for protecting innovative creations.


The case of DABUS has shed light on the evolving relationship between artificial intelligence and intellectual property rights. The refusal of the applications and subsequent appeal highlight the need for further examination of the legal frameworks surrounding AI-generated inventions. As technology continues to shape our world, it is imperative that we adapt our laws and regulations to address these emerging challenges. To stay updated on the latest developments in the technology field, visit Eireview.