What is a Patent?
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. The patent provides protection for the owner, which gives him/her the right to exclude others from making, using, exercising, disposing of the invention, offering to dispose, or importing the invention. The protection is granted for a limited period of 20 years.
Services of Patents Experts
In terms of the South African Patents Act, individuals may file their own provisional patent applications. It is however, advisable for applicants to seek the assistance of the patent attorneys.
If a provisional patent application is filed, the strength and scope of protection ultimately obtained will depend on the wording and content of the description of the invention. The Patent Office takes precautions to maintain confidentiality but can not be held responsible for what occurs outside the office.
South Africa is one of 142 countries that is a member of the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT). This Treaty allows an individual to file an international application as well as a national application. The international application will designate countries in which the applicant seeks protection. Extra fees are payable for this type of registration.
The Patent Office can not accept any responsibility for the loss of rights arising if the invention becomes public and is copied and the provisional applications have not been properly drafted.
What is the Lifespan of a Patent?
A patent can last up to 20 years, provided that it is renewed annually before the expiration of the third year. It is important to pay an annual renewal fee to keep it in force. The patent expires after 20 years from the date of application.
What can be patented?
Section 25 of the Patent Act, Act 57 of 1978 defines the scope of patentable inventions:
“25. Patentable inventions:
A patent may, subject to the provisions of this section, be granted for any new invention which involves an inventive step and which is capable of being used or applied in trade and industry or agriculture.
The following shall not be an invention for the purposes of this Act:
Anything which consists of:
shall not be an invention for the purposes of this Act.
- a discovery;
- a scientific theory;
- a mathematical method;
- a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic or any other aesthetic creation;
- a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business;
- a program for a computer; or
- the presentation of information