Complete Patent Application
Patent Application Process
Obtaining a patent in South Africa is essentially a two-step process, with the two steps being spaced 12 months apart. Once a complete patent application has been filed, it is impossible to add additional matter. The reason for this two-step approach to patents is therefore to give you time to improve your invention. Furthermore, any modifications that you make to the invention as contained in the provisional patent specification must be kept secret until such modifications have been captured in a second provisional patent application or are included in the eventual complete application.
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. Smit & Van Wyk Intellectual Property law firm specialises in Patent PCT National Phase applications in most African countries including South Africa, Angola, Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Nigeria, OAPI and ARIPO Contracting states. 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, prosecution:
(1) We prepare and prosecute patent and PCT applications;
(2) Advise on the patentability of inventions;
(3) Help clients license, franchise or assign their rights;
(4) Conduct patent searches;
(5) Handle the payment of maintenance fees;
(6) Record amendments to a patent and translate patent specifications into local Languages.
(7) How to patent an idea
Step 1 – Provisional Patent Application
The first step is to file a South African provisional patent application for your invention. This is done to obtain the earliest possible date from which to claim rights to your invention – much like an option to protect your invention.
Step 2 – Complete Patent Application
The second step is to file a complete patent application within 12 months of filing the provisional patent application in South Africa, and/or in each country where you wish to obtain patent protection. This application or applications will claim a first (or “priority”) date from your provisional patent application. In other words, the rights you are protecting date back to the filing date of your South African provisional patent application. During the initial 12 month patent grace period, your rights are kept open.
The patent has a duration of 20 years from the date of filing or the PCT International filing date, with no possible extensions.
Maintenance fees / Renewal fees
Annual maintenance fees are payable from the third anniversary of the filing date or from the PCT International filing date. There is a 6-month grace period to pay the maintenance fees.
Intellectual Property in Africa
Smit & Van Wyk Intellectual Property services spans across the entire African continent. Patent, PCT National Phase applications and Trade Mark filings in most African countries, OAPI and ARIPO.
ARIPO and OAPI
Many African countries form part of ARIPO or OAPI allowing for the filing of only one application to obtain protection in multiple territories. These regional systems reduce the administrative burden of those countries and support a better output of the relevant laws.
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