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In simple terms, a South African patent may be granted for an invention that is: New, Inventive and Useful. If your invention meets these three requirements, generally, subject to certain exclusions detailed below, a patent may be granted for the invention in terms of South African patent law. Obtaining a patent is essentially a two-step process, with the two steps being spaced 12 months apart.


A South African registered design protects the appearance of an article, unlike a patent which protects the underlying invention on which an article is based. Even though the underlying principle of operation may be the same as a known article, a new appearance may be protectable by way of a South African registered design.

Trade Mark

A trade mark is a mark which distinguishes your goods or services from goods or services of others in South Africa, or elsewhere. Trade marks are register-able in terms of the South African Trade Marks Act No 194 of 1993 and subject to certain requirements may be renewed indefinitely, thereby ensuring the continuity of your brand.


Copyright in South Africa, like in most other countries, differs from other forms of intellectual property in that it is not a right that needs to be registered (except in the USA). Unlike patents, trade marks or registered designs, copyright vests in the author of a work once the work is created in a material form.