How to Patent an idea in South Africa… and abroad

Keep your Idea a SECRET:
It is important to keep your idea a secret because a patent may only be granted for an idea that is new, inventive and useful.  If your idea meets these requirements, generally, it should be eligible for protection in terms of South African patent law, but once you reveal your idea to the public, or start selling the invention, you may not apply for protection.

Search for similar Inventions:
South Africa has an “absolute” novelty requirement, which means that similar inventions anywhere in the world will destroy the novelty of your idea, thereby forfeiting your rights. It is important to do a patent search before applying for a patent.

File a Provisional Patent Application:

Obtaining a patent is a two-step process that is spaced 12 months apart. The reason for this approach is therefore to give you time to determine the market for your invention, and also to give you time to refine and improve your invention prior to filing a complete patent application. Important Note: Any modifications that you make to the invention during this time, must also be kept secret until such modifications have been captured in a second provisional patent application or are included in the eventual complete patent application.

Apply for a 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 in each country where you wish to obtain protection. The rights you are protecting will date back to the filing date of your South African provisional patent application, and during the initial 12 month grace period, your rights are kept open. Patents are territorial rights which means that patents granted in South Africa can only be enforced in South Africa. You have to file a patent application in each country in which you wish to protect your idea.

PCT National Phase Entries

A PCT National Phase entry provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect intellectual property in each of its contracting states. A patent application filed under the PCT is called an international application, or PCT application. A single filing of an international application is made with a Receiving Office (RO) in one language. It then results in a search performed by an International Searching Authority (ISA), accompanied by a written opinion regarding the patentability of the invention, which is the subject of the application. The PCT National Phase entry essentially leads to a standard national or regional patent application, which may be granted or rejected according to applicable law, in each jurisdiction in which protection is desired. The Contracting states which are parties to the PCT, constitute the International Patent Cooperation Union.

More information regarding Patents

Patent Attorneys – Our Intellectual Property law firm specialises in Patent and PCT National Phase applications in Africa including the following countries: South Africa, Angola, Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Nigeria, OAPI and ARIPO Contracting states.

Patents – In simple terms, a South African patent may be granted for an invention that is: New, Inventive and Useful. If your invention meets these three requirements, generally, subject to certain exclusions detailed below…

Biotech Patents – Research and development in the life sciences is extremely costly and time-consuming. The pharmaceutical industry provides a good example of the time-scales and funding one needs in order to bring…

International Patent Protection – It is important to note that patents are territorial rights – granted in South Africa can be enforced in South Africa only. However, you may, within 12 months…

Software Patents – Historically, software has been protected primarily through the provisions in the South African Copyright Act. Examples of subject matter for copyright protection of computer programs and mobile apps are…

Requirements for Patent Application – We need a full, detailed technical description of the invention in order to draft a specification. If you have a prototype or drawings of your invention…

Plant and Animal Sciences – According to the patent laws of several countries, one cannot obtain biotechnological protection for plant or animal varieties, or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals…

Patent Search – It is very important for applicants to do a search for similar inventions before applying for protection. A Search will indicate whether your idea or inventions has been patented before. Although novelty can never be determined…