Will the Patent Office examine to see if my invention is new?
Patent Examination: South Africa is a non-examining country. 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.
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.