It is very important for applicants to do a patent search for similar inventions before applying for protection. A patent search will indicate whether your idea or inventions has been patented before. Although novelty can never be determined conclusively, an indication of the novelty of your invention may be found by conducting patent and literature searches on the internet. South Africa has an “absolute” novelty requirement, which means that similar inventions anywhere in the world will destroy the novelty of your invention, thereby forfeiting your patent rights.
If similar inventions exist in any another country it will not be possible to obtain patent protection for the invention in terms of the South African Patents Act as you are not the inventor. In addition, in terms of the absolute novelty requirement of our Patents Act, the invention can also no longer be considered “new”. Patent Attorneys may conduct a search for your Invention, but you may also search for similar patents yourself.
Types of Patent Registration in South Africa:
- Patents of Invention
- National Phase PCT Application
- Patents of Addition
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.