Each patent document has a unique identifying number and includes a detailed description of an invention, usually with drawings, and information about the inventor and applicant. Before applying for patent protection, you must make sure that what you have created is indeed an invention and does not fall in categories that are excluded from patent protection.
A Patent search is conducted to ensure that no existing patents are being infringed and that the invention is new/novel (S25 of Patent Act).
- Although this initial search is not compulsory it is advisable.
- The search for the South African Granted Patents can be conducted in the CIPC Office or online by using the following link: patentsearch.cipc.co.za
Please note that the requirement for novelty means that the invention must be new at the priority date of the invention anywhere in the world – not known through written or oral public disclosure or through use. Therefore a search for novelty must include the patents granted or any other related publications abroad on national and international level (such as European Patent Office, Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) published applications).
In order to perform patent search in the worldwide patent databases, go to www.wipo.int to browse the PCT applications and the National Patent Collections. These could include offices that have the biggest number of patent applications such as United States Patent Office, Japanese Patent Office, Australian Patent Office, Canadian Patent Office, Korean Patent Office etc. The above mentioned countries Intellectual Property offices websites are available on the WIPO website.
A Patent search can be undertaken by the applicant/inventor or by the patent attorney.
Performing a search prior to applying is vital as it helps you to:
- determine whether you can protect your IP i.e. does your invention meet the various requirements for successful grant of a patent?
- determine whether you are infringing someone else's IP
- learn about the competition or for research purposes
- determine who owns an item of IP
- check that your IP is not being infringed
- obtain product information on your competitors
At present our patent data base is available on WIPO website on PatentScope under National Patent Collections and on the CIPC website under “Public Patent Search” click here. Please bear in mind that this database is not yet complete, as not all patent documents are included. For the missing information, use the Paper Based Patent Disclosure Office in 202 Esselen str, Second Floor.