How to protect my Invention? Remember to keep your invention a secret until the patent application has been filed. Do not market, or sell it until a patent application has been filed. If your invention is new, inventive and useful, generally, subject to certain exclusions detailed below, a patent may be granted for the invention in terms of South African patent law.
Obtaining a patent is a two-step process spaced 12 months apart. The first step is to file a provisional patent application for your invention in South Africa. This is done 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.
It is very important for applicants to search for similar inventions before applying for a Patent. A Patent Search will indicate whether your idea or inventions has been patented before. Although novelty can never be determined conclusively, an indication of the novelty of your invention may be found by conducting patent and literature searches on the internet. South Africa has an “absolute” novelty requirement, which means that similar inventions anywhere in the world will destroy the novelty of your invention, thereby forfeiting your patent rights. If similar inventions exist in any another country it will not be possible to obtain patent protection for the invention in terms of the South African Patents Act as you are not the inventor. In addition, in terms of the absolute novelty requirement of our Patents Act, the invention can also no longer be considered “new”.
There is no such thing as a “worldwide” patent. You have to file a patent application in each country in which you wish to protect your invention. There are, however, option which allow you to keep your rights open in most foreign countries before finally deciding on such countries – please contact us to discuss these options. Through our network of foreign patent agents we can file foreign patent applications in your countries of interest.