Eligible patents are the inventions which qualify for patentability according to the patent office and acts of the specific country or the specific patent cooperation treaty for a region or group of member states. Some inventions cannot qualify as eligible patents including for instance, scientific methods and mathematical formulas. In South Africa computer programs cannot be eligible patents, but are protected under copyright. The European Patent Convention provides a list of inventions which cannot become eligible patents including that of works of aesthetic creations, information presentations, rules for performing mental acts, rules for playing games, computer programs, discoveries, and scientific theories as well as mathematical formulas.
It is important to note that the subject matter for eligible patents differs from country to country and treaty to treaty. As such it is important to get legal guidance regarding what is seen as an eligible patent in a specific country. Smit & Van Wyk can assist in this matter. We have an extensive team of experienced patent attorneys and support staff to provide legal guidance to inventors who wish to register their inventions as patents in South Africa and abroad. In South Africa an invention must be novel, not obvious to someone skilled in the particular trade, useful in industry or agriculture and original. It must involve an inventive step. In the USA an invention must meet the requirements of process, and manufacture, composition of matter or machine to be considered as an eligible patent.
The USPTO is an examining office whereas in South Africa the patent office is a non-examining office. This simply means that the responsibility lies with the patent attorney or the applicant to ensure that the invention meets the requirements for an eligible patent. As such the patent attorney conducts a complete patent search to ensure that the invention is indeed novel. The attorney furthermore assesses the invention for originality and inventiveness. In addition the attorney ensures that the application is completed correctly and that all claims made are done correctly in addition to assisting the client in the drawings and specifications settings. Contact us at Smit & Van Wyk for legal guidance regarding eligible patents.