A supplementary protection certificate known in short as SPC is one of the sui generis extensions of patents. The supplementary protection certificate is a right specifically available for plant protection goods including herbicides and insecticides as well as for medical products. The idea behind supplementary protection certificates is to provide the required protection and authorisation for the products to be made publicly available while waiting for regulatory approval. Only once the related patent expires can the certificate become effective.

It has a lifespan in the European Union of five years with the option of extension for another five and a half years if the supplementary protection certificate relates to human medical related products where clinical trials have been conducted according to specific regulations. The maximum period may not exceed 15 years. A supplementary protection certificate is only issued if the specific product has met the requirements of being protected by a basic patent which is in force and may be marketed.

The product in question may also not have been the subject for such a certificate and marketing authorization has been gained to put the product in the market as a specific medical product. The supplementary protection certificates have come into force simply because the long time it takes to approve medical products. As such companies need some form of protection for their products and the right to have the products on the market as soon as possible.

The whole process is rather complicated and as such the expertise of experienced intellectual property attorneys is well appreciated. Smit & Van Wyk Attorneys specialise in various areas of intellectual property including that of patents, trademarks, designs, and copyright.

Contact one of our patent attorneys for more information regarding services related to patent applications, renewals and litigation in South Africa. Call us: +27 (0) 12 349 7800 or

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