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COVID-19 Lockdown

Intellectual Property in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic

It is evident that the world is facing uncharted territory as a result of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. There is a great deal of uncertainty and many people are, for the first time, grappling with concepts such as social distancing, travel restrictions, and isolation, all fuelled by economic and health concerns.

We as people are, however, resilient.  This is evident from the massive spikes we have seen in ideas and inventions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The intellectual property community has been flooded with new patent-, design- and trade mark applications directed at solutions to fight the pandemic.

In order to ensure that ideas and inventions are made available to the public as soon as possible, Smit & Van Wyk have committed themselves to prioritising work on COVID-19 related inventions so that patents in this field can be filed within five business days from receiving instructions from clients.  We are further undertaking to file these applications at a reduced rate. We are committed to working  together with inventors and institutions to do what we can to support the international fight against the Corona Virus Pandemic.

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What is Plant Breeders’ Rights?

Intellectual Property rights for Plant Breeds

Plant breeders have intellectual property rights for new plant varieties. Breeders of new plant varieties are granted rights for protection against exploitation. If you breed a plant variety and would like to obtain financial reward for your efforts, you must register that variety with the Registrar for Plant Breeders. Once you have registered a plant variety, it becomes your intellectual property. Any individual breeder or breeding institution may apply for a plant breeder’s right. Foreign breeders can only apply through an agent residing in South Africa.

A Plant variety is considered new if the propagating material (seed or cutting from a plant) of a variety has not been sold in South Africa for longer than 1 year and the propagating material of a variety of a tree or of a vine has not been commercialised in another for more than 6 years, or in the case of any other plant for more than 4 years.

Plant breeders are only granted rights for kinds of plant that are declared in terms of the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, 1976 (Act 15 of 1976). 

Requirements for Plant Breeds:

To be granted plant breed rights, plant varieties must be new, distinct, uniform, stable and have an acceptable denomination. A variety is considered:

  • NEW if the propagating material
    • of a variety has not been sold in South Africa for longer than one year.
    • of a variety of a tree or of a vine has not been commercialised in another country for more than six years, or in the case of any other plant for more than four years.
  • DISTINCT if it is clearly distinguishable from any other variety of the same species.
  • STABLE if the plants of the particular variety still look like the original plants after repeated cultivation.
  • UNIFORM if the plants of a variety look similar and are sufficiently uniform in relevant characteristics.


Inventions, Ideas, New, Inventive and Useful, Gadgets, Biotech


Appearance, Aesthetic, Functional, Industrial Design, Design Patents

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Name, Slogan, Logo, Shapes, 3D Marks, Holograms, Motions


Literary, Musical, Artistic, Sound Recordings, Broadcasts, Photography


Buying or Starting a Franchise, Franchise Agreements

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