The first step in applying for a patent in South Africa is to carry out a Novelty Search.
This is done through on-line databases, and Smit & van Wyk can be contacted to conduct such
searches. One may also wish to conduct local infringement (also called “freedom to operate”
searches) at CIPRO’s offices in their paper based Disclosure Centre.
This search is a manual
search to make sure that the invention or anything similar has not already been patented in the
country. Smit & Van Wyk regularly carry out such searches on behalf of their clients, as we
have the experience of carrying out these searches and know what to look for and where.
Once an indication of the novelty of the invention has been obtained, the next step is to
file an application for a provisional patent. The wording of any patent application is very
important and it is advisable to have a patent attorney draw up the application.
patent is valid for a period of 12 months during which the inventor should evaluate his invention
to determine the commercial viability thereof.
The next step is for the application of a complete patent, and this is done at any time up to
the validity period of the provisional patent (i.e. 12 months from the date of filing the
The complete application may either be filed with the South Africa Patent Office or with the PCT (Patent Co-operation Treaty System) international filing system.
South African complete applications must be drawn up by a qualified patent attorney.
granted, and if renewed every year, the patent is valid for 20 years from the first application