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PCT National Phase South Africa

Intellectual Property Insights

Smit & Van Wyk Intellectual Property law firm specialises in patent PCT national phase applications in South Africa – a member of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and Paris Convention. Applicants who do not have their domicile or head office in South Africa must elect an agent (registered patent attorney) in South Africa to perform the patent protection on their behalf. The payment of annual renewal fees from the 3rd anniversary of the filing date will keep your PCT patent in force for a maximum period of 20 years. Inventions shall be protected by the following industrial property titles:
1. Patents of Invention, granted protection from the patent application filing date;
2. National Phase PCT Application;
3. Patents of Addition.

PCT National Phase in 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. A 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.

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.

Patent Renewals

Renewal fees become payable once the patent is granted. The first renewal fee falls due on the 1st anniversary of the filing date, and subsequent renewal fees are payable annually thereafter. Patents are time and date sensitive. A 3 month extension period beyond the 12 month deadline is available in South Africa only for filing a South African complete patent application. This is not available in other countries. You may claim patent priority in a foreign patent application from a South African provisional patent application, but only within 12 months from the date of filing such South African provisional patent application.

Posted on 9 March 2012
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