Register as a Customer
To view information on how to register as a customer, click here. If you are already registered as a customer, and know your customer code and password, proceed to step 2.
- Deposit the application fee as follows:
- For a provisional patent application R60;
- For a complete patent application R590;
- For a PCT national entry application R590;
- For a PCT international phase application fees has to be calculated by the CIPC official responsible for the PCT Receiving Office. (email@example.com)
- Pay the amount due into the CIPC bank account using your customer code as reference. For the bank account details, click here.
- The proof of payment must reach us on or before the date that you apply.
Conduct a Search
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. The search should 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.
All patents and some patent applications are published. A key purpose of the patent system is to publish knowledge and promote progress.
A patent is a contract with the government where the inventor agrees that details of the invention be published in exchange for a period of protection for the invention.
You can search patent databases to find
- all patents owned by a competitor
- technical details of another system (if patented)
- all patents on a particular topic, product or technology
- details of technology that can possibly be licensed
A patent is both a technical and a legal document with information that allows a person who is skilled in the area to make and use the patented invention.
Using competitive product information
Competitive product information can be used in different ways:
- to design around a patent
- to get a step ahead of competitors
- to obtain a license agreement for the patented technology
You are entitled to commercialise anything not covered by the patent's claims. You may discover a significant area or use for a product that is not in fact covered by your competitor's patent.
You may improve on the technology patented and patent your improvement. Your patent may then stop your competitor commercialising your improvement. It will also stop them making the technological improvement you have already patented.
In this case you and the competitor(rs) also may have to obtain a cross-license to be able to continue to manufacture the product.
Determining who owns a patent
The Patents Register records patentees and should always be searched to determine who owns a patent.
Patents can be transferred by way of assignment and assignments should be recorded in the patents register in order to be valid against third parties. The register can be searched electronically via Patent Search on the CIPC website or manually in the paper based register available in 202 Essellen Street,Sunnyside, Pretoria, 2nd floor
The International Patent Classification (IPC), is a tool used by many patent offices around the world to classify patent documents. The IPC is divided along broad technological lines into eight sections. These eight sections are then further subdivided. In total, the IPC has approximately 70,000 subdivisions. Each subdivision is represented by a symbol consisting of Arabic numerals and letters of the Latin alphabet.
The relevant IPC symbols (often called 'IPC indexes') for any patent document are selected by the national or regional patent office that publishes the patent document. The IPC marks are reflected on each patent document Please note that the South African Patents are classified only to the third level (subclass).
For more detailed classification you may use the PCT Database PatentScope on the WIPO Website.
Apply for your patent
There are three ways in which you can apply for a patent manually or electronically. For electronic filing of patent applications, please go to IP E-Services / E-filing Sign-in.
- File a provisional application - This may be undertaken by the applicant with or without the assistance of an attorney.
- File a complete application - This must be signed by a patent attorney.
- File a PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) application (if applicable).
- PCT International Phase application
- PCT National Phase application
If a Provisional Patent Application is submitted, the assistance of a patent attorney is not compulsory. It is important that the description of the invention is comprehensive and clear, and where applicable, drawings must be attached on A4 pages.
In order to apply for a provisional patent application, download and complete the following forms:
- P1: "Application for a Patent and Acknowledgement of Receipt" submitted in duplicate for manual filing. Please make sure that you write your CIPC customer code on this form.
- P2: "Register of Patents", submitted in duplicate
- P3: "Declaration of Power of Attorney", single copy
- P6: "Provisional Specification", single copy
All documents should preferably be type-printed.
Important: Please note that duplicate copies are not applicable to e-filing.
The office of the Patent Registrar will open a file and allocate the provisional patent application a unique number for the purpose of identification. The applicant is notified by the return of a copy of the P1 that was submitted.
Thereafter, a Complete Patent Application must be submitted within 12 months from the date of filing the provisional patent application by the applicant or his agent, or within a further 3 months on application to the Registrar for extension of time filed before the expiration of the 12 months.
- During this time (i.e. the 12 (15) month period) the inventor is able to work on his invention.
- During this period the inventor/manufacturer can also "test-the-market" to assess the viability of the invention before incurring the costs involved in a complete patent application.
Please note that a Complete Patent Application could be filed at the first instance without filing a provisional patent application first. This is appropriate when the invention is mature enough and the applicant wishes to file his complete patent application without delay.
A complete patent application may only be submitted with the assistance of a patent attorney. It can be submitted manually or electronically.
- Download and complete the following forms
- P1, "Application for a Patent and Acknowledgement of Receipt" submitted in duplicate for manual filing. Please make sure that you write your CIPC customer code on this form.
- P2: "Register of Patents", submitted in duplicate
- P3: "Declaration of Power of Attorney", single copy
- P7: Full detailed descriptions, claims and drawings (if applicable) on A4 pages should be included.
- P8: Publication particulars and abstract; abstract could contain one drawing or chemical formulae if applicable.
- P26 (Power of Attorney) must be completed.
- Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Applications National Phase are regarded as complete applications, but instead of the P1 form, form P25 must be filed. Please note that you have to write your CIPC customer code on the form P25.
- Important: Please note that duplicate copies are not applicable to e-filing.
PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) International Applications
- If an applicant has come up with an invention that he or she wishes to patent in a number of countries, the applicant is advised to utilise the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) prior to actually lodging patent applications in these countries.
- The applicant or patent attorney will complete a "Patent Cooperation Treaty Request Form" (in triplicate), together with the respective specifications, drawings etc.
- The PCT Receiving Office at CIPC processes this application and calculates the costs involved.
- NOTE: Any national or resident of South Africa can file an international application at the Receiving Office in South Africa.
- The PCT system is a patent "filing" system, and is not a patent "granting" system. There is no "PCT patent".
The PCT system provides for:
- An international phase comprising:
- Filing of the international application
- International search
- International publication and
- International preliminary examination (optional)
- A national/regional phase before designated Offices and/or Elected offices.
- The decision on granting patents is taken exclusively by national or regional offices in the national phase.
- Only inventions may be protected via the PCT by applying for patents, utility models and similar titles.
- Design and trade mark protection cannot be obtained via the PCT. There are separate international conventions dealing with these types of industrial property protection (The Hague Agreement and the Madrid Agreement, respectively). SA is not yet a member of these agreements.
Registration of a Patent
- Once a complete patent application or PCT national entry has been lodged, the formal examination is performed after 6 months.
- If all the formalities have been complied with, the application is accepted.
- The applicant is then required to advertise his/her patent in the Patents Journal, published monthly by CIPC in electronic format. The date of publication of the advertisement is deemed to be the date of registration.
- 2 months after publication in the Patent Journal a certificate is issued.