Novelty is obtained from the Latin word novus which means New. Novelty is the quality of being new or being original and unusual. Novelty generally exists in the subjective perceptions of individuals. An invention is a novel device, method, composition or process. It may also be an improvement upon a existing invention. Novelty can have pejorative sense and refer to a mere innovation. However, novelty in patent law is part of the legal test to determine whether an invention is patentable. A novelty effect is the tendency for performance to initially improve when new technology is instituted.

Some inventions may be patented. A patent legally protects the intellectual property rights of the inventor or owner of the patent. The rules and requirements for patenting an invention vary from country to country. KEEP THE INVENTION SECRET and do not market, or sell it until a patent application has been filed at the South African Patent Office.

It is very important for applicants to search for similar inventions before applying for a Patent. A Patent Search will indicate whether your idea or inventions has been patented before. Although novelty can never be determined conclusively, an indication of the novelty of your invention may be found by conducting patent and literature searches on the internet. South Africa has an “absolute” novelty requirement, which means that similar inventions anywhere in the world will destroy the novelty of your invention, thereby forfeiting your patent rights. If similar inventions exist in any another country it will not be possible to obtain patent protection for the invention in terms of the South African Patents Act as you are not the inventor.

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