How to File a Patent in South Africa

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Step-by-step guide on how to file a Patent in South Africa. Always keep your inventions a secret – Do not market or sell the inventions until the patent application has been filed. Obtaining a patent is a two-step process spaced 12 months apart. The South African Patent Office will check to see if all the necessary forms, specifications and drawings are included in the application. Important Notice: An invalid patent can be revoked on application to the Court of the Commissioner of Patents.

Steps to File a Patent in South Africa

  1. Contact a Qualified Patent Attorney: Qualified patent attorneys specialise in the identification, protection, prosecution and enforcement of patents. An Attorney who has this qualification is entitled to register and file a patent in South Africa.
  2. Establish the type of Patent: Patents of Invention, National Phase PCT Application or Patents of Addition.
  3. Prepare your Application: Your patent attorney will prepare the specifications, claims, drawings and abstract for your invention which will be required upon filing.
  4. File a provisional application: To obtain the earliest possible date from which to claim rights to your invention. Once the provisional patent has been submitted, additional steps has to be taken within 12 months to complete the application.
  5. File a complete application: Within 12 months of filing the provisional application in South Africa, and/or in each country where you wish to obtain patent protection.

In order to file a patent in South Africa an invention need to adhere to according to South African law:

Invention requirements

This “absolute” novelty requirement implies that any disclosure anywhere in the world before the filing date of a patent application in South Africa, will destroy the novelty of your invention, thereby forfeiting your patent rights.

There may be similar inventions that have been disclosed to the public in patent specifications or other literature. It needs to be determined whether your invention is considered obvious or not.

Inventions with no application in trade, industry or agriculture cannot be the subject of a patent in terms of South African patent law.

South Africa patents have a duration of 20 years and annual renewal fees are payable from the 3rd anniversary of the filing date. South Africa is a member of PCT and the Paris Convention (International treaty for the protection of Industrial Property). South Africa patents have a requirement of absolute novelty, inventiveness and usefulness.