Dr Joanne van Harmelen Heads up the biotechnology and life sciences cluster in ENSafrica’s Intellectual Property (“IP”) practice. She is a qualified patent attorney specialising in patent filing and prosecution in the biotech, pharmaceuticals and chemicals sectors.
Joanne holds a PhD in medical microbiology and vaccine development. She has extensive experience in the field of biotechnology and life sciences as well as in pharmaceutical and chemical inventions, having prepared and filed patent applications locally and in foreign jurisdictions in the fields of microbiology, biochemistry, molecular medicine, agrobiology, bioprocessing, pharmaceuticals and biologics, nutraceuticals, cosmetics, hydrometallurgical processes, polymer processes, and food sciences. Joanne is also experienced in the preparation and filing of plant breeders’ rights applications.
Joanne’s clients include leading international biotech and chemicals companies and start-ups with operations in Africa, North America, Europe, Australasia and Asia.
Her expertise extends to the assessment of the patentability of inventions, preparation and filing of patent applications locally and abroad, performance of freedom-to-operate assessments, general IP commercial transactional advice and IP due diligence assessments. She also advises on IP and biotech-related legislation, in particular, legislation relating to publicly-financed research and development; bioprospecting involving indigenous biological resources and traditional knowledge; and genetically modified organisms.
Prior to qualifying as a patent attorney, Joanne was employed as a chief scientific officer at the University of Cape Town, involved in HIV vaccine development and testing, as well as the preparation for Phase I clinical trials in South Africa and the United States of America.
Joanne is recognised as a leading/recommended lawyer by:
- The Legal 500 EMEA 2022, 2021, 2018, 2017, 2016 – Intellectual Property - Recommended / Key Lawyer (South Africa)
- Best Lawyers® 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 – Healthcare (South Africa)
- Managing IP: IP Stars Handbook 2022, 2021, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 – Patents (South Africa)
- IAM Patent 1000: 2016 - 2021 – Prosecutions (South Africa)
- IAM Global Leaders – 2022, 2021 (South Africa)
Joanne is a member of the following professional institutions:
- SAIIPL – South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law (fellow)
- LES South Africa – Licensing Executives Society South Africa (Board Member)