A patent is an exclusive right granted by a sovereign state to an inventor in exchange for the details of that invention. The procedure on how to get a patent might vary between countries, but a patent application should always include claims that define the invention. These claims must meet relevant patentability requirements, such as novelty, usefulness, and non-obviousness.

So how do I get a patent? Obtaining a patent is a two-step process, but before you start with your application, remember to keep your invention a secret, and also do a Patent search to ensure that you do not infringe on some else’s invention.

Web Links for Patent Search
Google Patent Search
Google Advanced Patent Search
South African Online Patent Search
United States Patent and Trademark Office Search
European Patent Office Search
CIPC (South Africa) Patent Search
Global Patent Index

The first step is to file a provisional patent application, and then a PCT or complete patent application. The reason for this two-step approach to patents is therefore to give you time to determine if there is a market for your invention, and also to give you time to refine your invention into its “perfected” form prior to filing a complete patent application.

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.

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. The complete patent 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.

Patent Application in South Africa