There are several categories of Intellectual Property in South Africa. The overall concept of Intellectual Property relates to ideas and creations of the mind. Your ideas and creations can take the form of an invention, design, mark, song, photograph or poem, and you should protect them from being exploited by others. The type of protection you are entitled to depends on the type of intellectual property you have. An invention or idea should be patented, a company logo is protected by registering a trademark and a photograph is protected by copyright. Inventions may be patented as long as the application satisfies certain requirements. In South Africa a patent may be granted for an invention that proves new and can be used in trade, industry or agriculture.
South African – patent is valid for 20 years provided that it is renewed annually before the expiration of the 3rd year from the date of filing in South Africa.
United States – patent is valid for 20 years from the filing date of the earliest U.S. or international (PCT) application to which priority is claimed. Renewal fees are paid annually.
China – patent is valid for 20 years from the filing date.
Japan – patent is valid for 20 years from the Japanese filing date (for a PCT case, from the international filing date).