Activities within the SAAO entail research involves the development of software designed to control hardware to behave in particular way usually novel. The subject of computer implemented inventions is thus particularly relevant to the these activities. In most countries you cannot patent a “computer program” per se since these are generally covered by copyright protection. The problem with copyright however is that, it is not sufficient to protect an “inventive concept”. The trend over the years, especially in Europe has seen a move towards patent protection for computer implemented inventions.
What are computer implemented inventions ?
“Inventions whose implementation involves the use of a computer, computer network, or other programmable apparatus, the invention having one or more features which are realised wholly or in part by means of a computer program” – EPO
What this means for the Researcher is that, they should not immediately dismiss potential IP as NOT patentable simply because it involves software. It is advisable to contact the IP office when unsure.