Patent Requirements in South Africa

Patent Requirements: A South African patent may be granted for an invention that is new (novel), inventive and useful. Novelty can never be determined conclusively, but an indication of the novelty of your invention may be found by conducting a patent search. South Africa has a an absolute novelty requirement, which means that disclosure of the invention anywhere in the world will destroy the novelty of your invention, thereby forfeiting your patent rights.

If you found an invention in another country it will not be possible to obtain patent protection for the invention in South Africa because you are not the inventor. Only the inventor or person to whom the rights has been assigned to may apply for patent protection. For more information regarding patents, please view our patents page.

PCT
The Patent Cooperation Treaty or PCT is an international patent law treaty. The PCT provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions in each of its contracting states.

Smit & Van Wyk Intellectual Property law firm specialises in Patent PCT National Phase applications in most African countries including South Africa. 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.

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. The Contracting states which are parties to the PCT, constitute the International Patent Cooperation Union.

PCT National Phase 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.

Protection Duration in South Africa

Non-PCT applications – 20 years from the South African filing date.
PCT national phase applications – 20 years from the filing date of the PCT International application.

Our Patent Departments’ Specialised 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.

Wessel van Wyk
Wessel van Wyk

Director, Patent Attorney

BEng (Electronics)
BEng (Hons)
BProc.

Chantal Hoffelner
Chantal Hoffelner

Director, Patent Attorney

LLB
B.Sc Biochemistry & Microbiology (Hons)
M.Sc.

Corrie Hall
Corrie Hall

Patent Portfolio Manager

Corrie is our formalities and foreign portfolio manager with more than 30 years experience. 

Kimberley Conroy
Kimberley Conroy

Candidate Patent Attorney

B.Sc Genetics
B.Sc (Hons) Biochemistry

Niel Meiring
Niel Meiring

Candidate Patent Attorney

B.Eng Civil
LLB