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Patents Protect Your Concept


- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA

The procedure for obtaining patent protection for your concept in South Africa

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention/idea/concept, 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.

There are certain criteria or requirements that have to be met in order for an idea or invention to be eligible for patent protection – it must be new, useful and inventive.

An application for a patent can either be lodged in one of three ways: 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; or file a PCT (Patent Co-operation Treaty) application (if applicable) – this is if you seek patent protection in other countries as well.

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. The fee for a provisional application is R60.

In the case of a Provisional Patent Application, 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 one of the copies that was submitted.

Thereafter, a complete patent application must be submitted within 12 months from the date of filing the provisiona l patent application by the applicant or his agent. During this time (i.e. the 12 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.

If a Complete Patent Application is being submitted, the assistance of a patent attorney is compulsory. The fee for a complete application is R590.00. Full detailed descriptions, claims and drawings (if applicable) on A4 pages should be included.

Date: 15th January 2014
Legislation: Patents Act 57 of 1978

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