Patents: Getting Started

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1. Novelty Searches in view of obtaining patent protection for an invention

If a product or concept identical to yours is already in existence anywhere in the world then you cannot obtain patent protection for the same concept in South Africa (or in most other countries for that matter). However, should you have invented an improvement on an existing concept and the improvement is (i) new, (ii) inventive, and (iii) has a use in trade, industry or agriculture, then such improvement may certainly be patentable. In order to get an indication of whether such a product already exists anywhere in the world, we are able to conduct a fixed-cost, fixed-time novelty search through the European and American patent offices’ databases. Such a search would give an indication of the novelty of the invention, however, keep in mind that it would not guarantee the invention’s novelty. (The cost for such a search is typically R3000 including VAT for a fixed-cost, 2 hour patent novelty search and reporting thereof).

2. Patent and/or registered design protection

The drafting of a patent specification or a design application is best done by registered patent attorneys. This includes the official Patent Office fee, as well as the costs of all drawings, which are done by our draughtsman. As such, we do not require formal drawings from you – merely a good description of the invention and some freehand drawings. It usually takes about 20 working days for the preparation and forwarding of the specification to you for approval prior to filing. If all goes well and there is a market for your product, you should, within 12 months from the date of filing of the provisional patent application, file a so-called complete patent application which, in South Africa, will be about 30% more than the cost for drafting and filing of the provisional patent application. Foreign patent applications also need to be filed at such time, given a reasonable possibility of success in a foreign market.

3. Complete our Invention Description Form (IDF) so that we may provide you with a more accurate cost estimate.

We will be able to provide you with information regarding the suitability of your invention for design protection upon receipt of the completed IDF. The IDF also contains the website addresses of the US and EU patent offices, where you may conduct your own patent and design searches to obtain an indication of whether your idea already exists.

Our communications with our clients are subject to attorney/client privilege and are treated in a highly confidential manner.