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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:

  1. 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.
  2. The following shall not be an invention for the purposes of this Act:
    Anything which consists of:
    1. a discovery;
    2. a scientific theory;
    3. a mathematical method;
    4. a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic or any other aesthetic creation;
    5. a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business;
    6. a program for a computer; or
    7. the presentation of information
    shall not be an invention for the purposes of this Act.

Renewal of Patents

  • To maintain a patent in force a payment of a renewal fee is due every year starting from the expiring of the 3rd year from the date of filing until the patent expires.
  • This date is also known as “due date” for renewal.
  • To renew a patent a form P10 must be completed and submitted to CIPC together with the payment of the respective renewal fee on or before the due date.
  • The amount due for the respective renewal fee can be seen from item 7 of the Patents Table of Fees (available on the website). For example, the renewal fee for the 5th year is R130, for the 6th year is R85 and so on.
  • The renewal fees can be paid in advance as well for more than one year or for the whole period of the duration of the patent if the applicant so wishes
  • In case the payment has been delayed but no longer than 6 months from the due date, item 6 of the patents Table of Fees applies and a fine of R90 must be paid for the first month plus R50 thereafter for each month or a part thereof ( not exceeding five months) in addition to the renewal fee.
  • In case the delay in payment of a renewal fee is more than 6 months, the patent will lapse and can be restored by completing a request for restoration in terms of section 47(1)[ Reg. 49] and payment of restoration fee of R282, accompanied by an affidavit stating the reasons for the delay. The decision for restoration is discretionary.

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