Intellectual Property Attorneys
Smit & Van Wyk, Inc. is a specialist legal practice dealing exclusively with patent and trademark law in South Africa. Our qualified and experienced patent attorneys are able to give you the best legal advice regarding your intellectual property. Our fields of practice encompass all aspects relating to patents, trademarks, designs, copyright, including litigation, as well as providing advice on the commercial rights attached to each of these forms of protection.
Strange as it may sound, many individuals and businesses are unaware of the intellectual property that they have created, or they often underestimate its value. Therefore, if certain steps are not taken to protect their intellectual property (patents, registered designs, trade marks, copyright), such intellectual property cannot be exploited to its full commercial potential.
The first step in protecting your intellectual property is to identify it. Although it may seem like an obvious process, it is most often not possible to identify the intellectual property of a business without involving specialized expertise. Once the intellectual property of a business has been identified, it is possible to take steps to protect it, whether by means of registered forms of intellectual property protection such as patents, trademarks, registered designs, or unregistered forms of intellectual property protection, such as copyright, contractual agreements or non-statutory forms of protection.
A patent is an exclusive right granted by a sovereign state to an inventor for a limited period of time in exchange for the details of that invention. The procedure for granting a patent vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements, but a patent application must include claims that define the invention. These claims must meet relevant patentability requirements, such as novelty, usefulness, and non-obviousness. It is highly recommended that your claims be written by a qualified patent attorney or patent agent.
A Trade mark is a mark which distinguishes your goods or services from goods or services of others in South Africa, or elsewhere. Examples of Trade Marks: Name, Slogan, Logo, Shapes, Three-dimensional Marks, Colors, Holograms, Motions / Multimedia, Positions, Gestures, Olfactory (smells / scents), Sounds / Tunes, Tastes, Textures. A registered trade mark can be protected forever.
Franchising: The licensing of a franchisor’s business model to a franchisee. A franchise agreement is a legal document between a franchisor and a franchisee that ensures that both parties’ interests are protected. Specific statutory requirements pertaining to franchise agreements have been introduced in terms of the Consumer Protection Act and compliance thereof is compulsory.
The franchisor must also carefully negotiate the license. The franchise agreement should disclose the all aspects of running the business, from administration, placing orders and customer service. The fees and training period must be fully disclosed and there should not be any hidden costs. Franchise agreements must explain amongst others all particulars and criteria in respect of the business model, as well as which aspects will form part of the business system.
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