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Patent Examination

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Patent Examination in South Africa

South Africa is a non-examining country – there is no Patent Examination in South Africa. Effectively, this means that an eventual South African complete patent application will result in a patent being granted without a check to see if these requirements are met.  Such a granted South African patent will be valid until proven otherwise and may be subject to revocation based on a third party’s objection against its novelty and/or inventiveness. It is important to note that a provisional patent application will not provide you with an enforceable right – it is merely a device which allows you to test the market without destroying the novelty of you invention. You only obtain an enforceable right once you have filed a complete patent application for the final form of your invention and it has been granted by the Patent Office. Furthermore, It is important to note that patents are territorial rights – one cannot enforce a granted South African patent in countries other than South Africa. Read more about Patents in Africa.

International Patent Examination

There is no such thing as a worldwide patent, which means that the provisional patent application must, within 12 months of filing the provisional application, be followed by the filing of either (1) patent applications in each country in which you require protection, or (2) a PCT application followed by the filing of patent applications in each country in which you require protection. Such patent applications will claim priority from the South African provisional application. Keep in mind that many countries, including the PCT system, will examine the novelty and inventiveness of the invention and grant of a patent in such countries will be subject to the invention’s passing of the examination.

It is also important to consider in which geographic areas a company/product will be rolled out as it may be necessary to register domain names in these countries. For example, if the nursery wanted to open an office in the UK, that would be a good reason to register the domain “plants.uk”. Thinking about future expansion and/or competition is necessary in order to protect domain names before they are taken by someone else.

Posted on 18 August 2009
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