In terms of the South African Patents Act No. 57 of 1978, patent protection may be obtained for inventions which are new and non-obvious, and which are capable of use in the fields of trade, industry or agriculture. The concept of ‘international novelty’ is applied meaning that, in order to be patentable in South Africa, the invention forming the subject matter of the patent application cannot have been put into the public domain, by use or description, or have been otherwise known, anywhere in the world, prior to the application date of the patent.
The South African patent system is a deposit system – no examination as to the patentability of the invention described in the patent specification is carried out. It is therefore left to the marketplace to determine whether or not a patent is valid. The advantage of this system is that patents are granted relatively quickly and at low cost compared to other countries where patent examination is carried out.
South Africa is a member of the Paris Convention and is also a signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which means that the South African Patent Office is fully integrated into conventional international patent registration systems and procedures.
South African patents can therefore be used as a basis for extending protection to other territories, and, similarly, foreign patents can be extended to South Africa.
The patent team at ENSafrica is well placed to assist clients from conception of an idea and will guide inventors through the patenting process both in South Africa and internationally.