South Africa

Intellectual Property
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The Smit & Van Wyk team of experienced intellectual property attorneys are able to provide legal advice regarding your patents, trade marks and copyright. We are a specialist legal practice that deals exclusively with patent, trade mark and copyright law in South Africa and across Africa. Our fields of practice encompass all aspects relating to intellectual property, including litigation, as well as commercial rights attached to each of these forms of protection. Once the Intellectual Property of a business has been identified, it is recommended to take steps to protect it, whether by means of registered forms of Intellectual Property protection such as patentstrade marksdesignsplant breeders’ rights or unregistered forms of Intellectual Property protection, such as copyright, contractual agreements or non-statutory forms of protection.

At Smit & Van Wyk, it is our mission to provide unparalleled service to our treasured clients by developing dynamic solutions which are tailored to suit individual Intellectual Property needs. The key to achieving this lies with our vibrant people, who are eager to go beyond the call of duty. This can-do attitude is our legacy, setting us apart from the rest. As we continue to grow, we look forward to sharing this legacy with clients and employees alike.

South Africa Patents

A patent is an exclusive right granted by a sovereign state to an inventor for a limited period of time in exchange for the details of that invention. The procedure for granting a patent varies widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements, but a patent application must include claims that define the invention. It is highly recommended that your claims be written by qualified patent attorney. Read more about How to Patent an Idea.

PCT Filings in South Africa
PCT national phase patents have a duration of 20 years from the filing date of the PCT International application. Applicants who do not have their domicile or head office in South Africa must elect a registered patent attorney in South Africa to perform the patent protection on their behalf.

South Africa Trade Marks

A trade mark is a mark which distinguishes your goods or services from goods or services of others in South Africa, or anywhere else in the world.

Examples of trade marks include: names, slogans, logos, shapes, three-dimensional marks, colours, holograms, motions / multimedia, positions, gestures, olfactory (smells / scents), sounds / tunes, tastes and textures. A registered trade mark can be protected forever. The Smit & Van Wyk Intellectual Property law firm specialises in trade mark protection in most African countries.

Our services includes trade mark search, prosecution, trade mark renewals and enforcement. We recommend doing atrade mark search in each of the countries in which you wish file a trade mark registration.

Registered Designs

A Registered Design gives the owner control over their design (product design, concept design, industrial design) for a limited period of time. A registered design does not protect the underlying concept of a product but rather the appearance embodying the design. The owner of a South African registered design  (design patent), may exclude others from copying, making, importing or using any article that is included in the class in which the design is registered. The owner has complete control over the design which is protected for 15 years (aesthetic design) or 10 years (functional design). Read more: Aesthetic vs Functional Designs – In both cases, a design can only be valid upon registration if there was no information disclosed about it prior to the application filing date. In South Africa, a 6 months grace period applies from the date that information was publicly made known until filing date.


Copyright does not have to be registered in South Africa. Copyright vests in the author of a work once the work is created in a material form. As a general guide, copyright infringement can be said to occur where the copyrighted material is used for commercial gain as opposed to private or personal use.