FAQs - Patents

You may file on your own or the office may assist you if you wish to file a provisional patent application. To file a complete patent application you are required by the law to be assisted by a patent attorney.

There are three ways in which inventions can be protected. However, it should be noted that this is a fairly specialised field. When lodging a complete specification (see par. b below) for the registration of a patent, the assistance of a patent attorney will definitely be required.
a.Complete the prescribed forms for the provisional patent application. This will give you protection for 12 months.
b.Complete the forms to complete specification, attaching drawings where applicable. This will give you protection for 20 years, subject to payment of renewal fees.
c.Apply for an international patent protection designating South Africa and any other member of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in terms of the PCT system.

A search on the patent databases available on the internet could be done either by you or by a patent attorney. To be new, the invention must be not known or used anywhere in the world. A patent is only protected where it is filed, e.g. in the country in which it was registered. However, international agreements allow protection in more than one country, e.g. the European Convention. If you wish to apply for a patent in a foreign country, the Paris convention, of which SA is a member, allows an applicant to claim priority on the ground of the first patent application for the same invention, if the subsequent application in the foreign country was filed within12 months after the application date of the first one. If you file abroad - the Patent attorney or an International Search Office should do a search.

Generally, you can patent anything which meets the requirements of an invention provided it is not contrary to the law, good morals and the natural laws.

In terms of the SA Patent Act, there is a requirement for absolute novelty i.e. the invention must be not known or used anywhere in the world. However, there are some countries where the novelty requirement is restricted to the so-called relative novelty, e.g. not known for the last 50 years, but a prior use is not destroying the novelty.

20 years, subject to the payment of annual fees.

There is a provision for registration of a patent of addition, if it is an improvement of your own invention and the protection will be granted for the unexpired period of the main patent. If it is an improvement of somebody else's invention, you can obtain a dependent patent, as far as that improvement is patentable.

It is a description of an invention and contains also claims and/or drawings.

Yes. The law requires that a patent attorney signs a complete specification.

The first renewal fee is R130. The amount increases, as the patent gets older.

Apply on the prescribed form P4 (maximum of three months). This is not acknowledged abroad, but only applies to the South African patent.

Yes, on condition that the invention is still new and not presented or made public to anyone, or the media.

One may inform the person in writing that he is infringing on your invention. One can not sue a person while it is a provisional application. Only nine months after the granting of a complete patent can one institute action. The infringement action may include a claim for an interdict, delivery up of things involving infringement and damages.

A world patent does not exist. You may file separate applications in all the countries or file a PCT application designating countries in which you seek protection.

Yes, the change of ownership should be recorded in the Patents Office within six months.

Your patent will be attached like any other property.

Yes, you may apply for more than one name as an applicant. Even a company's name may be used but the inventor should submit an assignment of invention to indicate that he has granted permission to those applicants.

You have to register as a customer via the CIPC website or if you need assistance, you may come to register at the CIPC offices.

Yes, but on condition that a patent attorney signs the specification indicating his capacity.

File a request by the way of notice of motion, accompanied by an affidavit explaining the reasons why the patent lapsed. You should state that it was never your intention to allow the invention to lapse. You should also have applied for the restoration without undue delay.

If you wish to file a complete patent application and with regard to eventual amendments if you wish to file abroad. You may ask an attorney to conduct a patent search, such as a novelty search, state-of-the-art search or infringement search etc.

Yes, you may, but you will deprive yourself of time to do market research to determine whether your patent is viable and then proceed to registration.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty is a treaty which allows an individual/resident of the member states of that treaty to lodge an application in one office (Receiving Office) and 31 months thereafter the applicant may enter the PCT National Phase in all countries, members of PCT in which he has intention to seek protection. The PCT application is processed through the International Phase and the National or Regional Phase.

Transmittal fee: R500.00
Preparation of each Priority: R200.00
Basic fee: R 2 620.00
If the application contains more than 30 sheets: R60.00 for each sheet in excess of 30 sheets
Search fee - Click here

Austrian Patent Office: R1 022.00
Austrian Patent Office: R3 150.00
European Patent Office: R6 040.00
NB: Fees may change on a monthly basis by notification given in the PCT Newsletters - PCT Newsletters are available on the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) website - www.wipo.int

The applicant does not need a Patent Attorney to file a PCT application. However, when the same application enters the national phase, the complete specification must be signed by the patent attorney.

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