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Patent Applications in South Africa

Patent applications are submitted to the CIPC Offices in Pretoria, South Africa. Patent applications should include forms P1, P2 and P6 and if made by an attorney or agent, P3. It is important that the description of the specification that goes with form P6 is comprehensive and clear, and where applicable, detailed drawings must be attached, all on A4 pages. Provided that the provisional patent application has been accepted, the applicant will receive a reference number in case he or she needs to make reference to the proposed patent. Once approved the applicant then has 12 months in which to make a Complete Patent Application. This time limit is extendable for a small fee. It normally takes up to 6 months to have complete patent application processed.

Step 1 – 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.

Step 2 – 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.

Intellectual Property in South Africa

Copyright
Copyright does NOT have to be registered in South Africa. Copyright vests in the author of a work once the work is created in a material form. In South Africa, the term for copyright protection is 50 years, either from the end of the year in which it was created or made publicly available.

Patents
A South African patent may be granted for an invention or idea that is new, inventive and useful. Obtaining a patent in South Africa is a two-step process, with the two steps being spaced 12 months apart. A provisional patent application is filed in order to obtain the earliest possible date from which to claim rights.

Designs
A registered design protects the appearance of an object. Aesthetic designs protect the appearance of an object irrespective of the aesthetic value thereof. Functional designs protect the appearance of an article in as far as its appearance is necessitated by the function that the object is to perform.

Trademarks
A trademark distinguishes your goods or services from the goods or services of others.  Once a trademark is registered in South Africa it needs to be renewed every 10 years to stay in force. A trademark may be registered forever.  Name, Slogan, Logo, Shapes, Motions, Positions, Gestures, scents, Sounds, Textures.