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Patent Cooperation Treaty Applications

South Africa

The Patent Cooperation Treaty is often referred to as the PCT. It is an international treaty that governs patent filings and cooperation amongst member states. The Patent Cooperation Treaty came into being as far back as 1970 with the aim of unifying patent filing procedures and to ensure that the patents granted in the member states are protected against infringement thereof. Although there certainly is no such thing as an international patent, the term used for the filing of patents under the Patent Cooperation Treaty is known as the international filing or application. It can also be referred to as a PCT filing. Under the Paris Cooperation Treaty only one application needs to be lodged with the Receiving Office. It can be done in one language. The International Searching Authority, which is more often referred to as ISA, then does a search. Once the search has been completed, ISA provides an opinion in writing about the application. The invention must be deemed patentable for application to go onto the next phase. In some instances the IPEA, which stands for International Preliminary Examination Authority will also perform an examination. The last phase of a patent application with the Patent Cooperation Treaty involves another examination by the national patent authority.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation, known as WIPO, administers the PCT National Phase Applications. In effect the member states of the Paris Convention, who are signatories to the Paris Cooperation Treaty, number more than 124 and as such it is possible to file a single patent application to cover all the countries, although each country must still authorise the patent after their national or regional examination. To file an international application you must be resident in one of the Paris Patent Cooperation Treaty signatory countries.

PCT Patents in South Africa

South Africa is a member of the Paris Convention and PCT. The deadline for filing PCT national phase applications is 31 months from the earliest priority date. The Registrar of Patents has a discretion to extend the national phase entry deadline by 3 months, on formal request made to him by the applicant.

Non-PCT Patent Duration – 20 years from the South African filing date.
PCT Patent Duration – 20 years from the filing date of the PCT International application.

Specialised Patent Fields

Apart from engineering and gadget-type inventions, our team of experienced Patent attorneys also specialise in the following fields:

Biotech Patents
The biotech patent system has evolved over the past four centuries to afford patent monopolies to certain individuals who have invested effort and ingenuity in devising new or better solutions to existing problems. Patent monopolies are granted to such individuals as an incentive for them to exploit their patented inventions without having to fend off unfair competition.

Genetic Engineering
Isolated DNA sequences, proteins to which functions have been ascribed, and other metabolites are usually viewed in patent terms as chemical compounds, much like a new organic drug molecule. The unique sequence of the nucleotides or amino acids that you have uncovered constitutes a novel biological molecule (much like a novel chemical molecule) and may thus be patentable.

Pharmaceutical or Chemical compounds
Novel purified chemical or pharmaceutical compounds are patentable, as well as their pharmaceutically acceptable isomers and salts. Crude extracts in which a compound is enriched may also be patentable, depending on the level of enrichment relative to the natural, unfractionated state.

Microbiological Sciences
South African patent law provides specifically for the patenting of microbiological processes (such as fermentation or brewing) and the products derived therefrom. This would obviously include genetically modified organisms used in such processes, which may also be eligible for patent protection.

Software Patents / Mobile App Patents
Historically, software has been protected primarily through the provisions in the South African Copyright Act. Similar to other forms of inventions, a need has arisen to protect the underlying principle of operation of the computer software, rather than the physical representation thereof as set out above. Therefore, a need has arisen to protect software related inventions in terms of the Patents Act.

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.