It is important to note that patents are territorial rights – a patent granted in South Africa can be enforced in South Africa only. However, you may, within 12 months of filing your South African provisional patent application, file foreign patent applications based on your provisional patent application – however, only once each such foreign patent application has proceeded to grant will you have an enforceable patent right in any such countries. This does not mean that you cannot start marketing your invention in such countries, it means that you cannot obtain a patent right if you do not file and prosecute each patent to completion in each of your target markets.
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.
PCT Patent Applications
Smit & Van Wyk Intellectual Property law firm specialises in Patent PCT National Phase applications in most African countries including South Africa, Angola, Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Nigeria, OAPI and ARIPO Contracting states. The PCT National Phase is the second of the two main phases of the PCT procedure. It follows the international phase and consists in the processing of the international application before each Office of (or acting for a Contracting State) that has been designated in the international application. It is possible to file a single patent application to cover all the PCT countries.
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) ensures that by filing one international patent application, that applicants can simultaneously seek protection for an invention in other PCT member countries. 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 a patent is desired.