Some of the frequently asked questions about patenting for example, a patent formula are briefly answered below.

Can I patent a formula?

You cannot patent formulas for Mathematics, but you can patent formula applications such as software for applying the patent formula.

If something is new, original, and useful can it be patented?

If it involves an inventive step and is useful to trade or agriculture it can be patented. A patent for a scientific formula, however, will not be granted. Treatments and formulas cannot be patented.

What about a patented formula for medication?

Many pills are patented, but not the formulas, rather the end products. As such you should take note that you cannot patent a surgical procedure.

Why can’t a discovery be patented?

Similar to patenting a formula, a discovery is not the result of human creation. It was there before and you simply discovered its existence. The fact has not changed just because you discovered such. If you are able to use the discovery and create an invention based on the discovery you will be able to patent such.

Why is a patent formula of Mathematics not patentable?

The information has been there and you simply discovered it. In addition, math formulas are considered valuable and thus of use to the public.

Apart from a patent formula, why can products of nature not be patented?

A physical phenomenon cannot be patented because you did not create such. The same applies for a living thing. You can also not patent a combination of bacteria if properties still occur in nature. You can pretty much not take credit for something which is already there and thus not new.

Contact one of our patent attorneys for more information regarding services related to patent applications, renewals and litigation in South Africa. Call us: +27 (0) 12 349 7800 or

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