Patents, Designs, Trade Marks and Copyright
The Smit & Van Wyk team of experienced patent attorneys are able to provide legal advice regarding your inventions and ideas. We are a specialist legal practice that deals exclusively with patent, trade mark and copyright law in South Africa and across Africa. Our fields of practice encompass all aspects relating to intellectual property, including litigation, as well as commercial rights attached to each of these forms of protection. Once the Intellectual Property of a business has been identified, it is recommended to take steps to protect it, whether by means of registered forms of Intellectual Property protection such as patents, trade marks, designs, or unregistered forms of Intellectual Property protection, such as copyright, contractual agreements or non-statutory forms of protection. At Smit & Van Wyk, it is our mission to provide unparalleled service to our treasured clients by developing dynamic solutions which are tailored to suit individual Intellectual Property needs. The key to achieving this lies with our vibrant people, who are eager to go beyond the call of duty. This can-do attitude is our legacy, setting us apart from the rest. As we continue to grow, we look forward to sharing this legacy with clients and employees alike. Smit & Van Wyk has received a number of awards and has been listed by various legal guides.
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 varies 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. The patent attorneys at Smit & Van Wyk provide a wide range of patent-related services across multiple industries and fields of technologies, including patent drafting, filing and prosecution. File Patent & Design Applications – Patent & design applications are not mutually exclusive, and there are many instances in which it would be advantageous to file both a patent application and a design application for the same new product.
The PCT National Phase is the second of the two main phases of the PCT procedure. The deadline for filing PCT national phase applications in South Africa is 31 months from the earliest priority date. A PCT national phase application has a duration of 20 years from the filing date of the PCT International application. Applicants who do not have their domicile or head office in South Africa must elect an agent (registered patent attorney) in South Africa to perform the patent protection on their behalf.
A Registered Design gives the owner control over their design (product design, concept design, industrial design) for a limited period of time. A registered design does not protect the underlying concept of a product but rather the appearance embodying the design. The owner of a South African registered design (design patent), may exclude others from copying, making, importing or using any article that is included in the class in which the design is registered. The owner has complete control over the design which is protected for 15 years (aesthetic design) or 10 years (functional design). Read more: Aesthetic vs Functional Designs – In both cases, a design can only be valid upon registration if there was no information disclosed about it prior to the application filing date. In South Africa, a 6 months grace period applies from the date that information was publicly made known until filing date.
A trade mark is a mark which distinguishes your goods or services from goods or services of others in South Africa, or anywhere else in the world. Examples of trade marks include: names, slogans, logos, shapes, three-dimensional marks, colours, holograms, motions / multimedia, positions, gestures, olfactory (smells / scents), sounds / tunes, tastes and textures. A registered trade mark can be protected forever. Read more on How to register a trade mark in South Africa. Smit & Van Wyk Intellectual Property law firm specialises in trade mark protection in most African countries including South Africa, OAPI and ARIPO contracting states. Our services includes trade mark searches, prosecution, maintenance and enforcement.
Copyright does not have to be registered in South Africa. Unlike patents, trade marks or registered designs, copyright vests in the author of a work once the work is created in a material form. As a general guide, copyright infringement can be said to occur where the copyrighted material is used for commercial gain as opposed to private or personal use.
Smit & Van Wyk provides a full range of IP legal services in all African countries where Intellectual Property protection is available. We can provide information on the filing requirements in each of the African countries and can also offer information on the various regional IP organisations such as ARIPO, OAPI and the Madrid protocol. We work with a network of trusted and knowledgeable agents to develop the best possible solution to each of our clients’ IP needs in Africa.