Introductions & F.A.Q.
South African Registrations
Foreign Registrations & the PCT

Head Office
Tel:(012) 342 1774
Fax:(012) 342 3027
222 Richard Street, Hatfield, 0083, South Africa
P.O.Box 13575 Hatfield 0028
Republic of South Africa
Docex 219 Pretoria

Cape Town Branch Office

Office Hours:
Mon - Thurs: 08h00 to 16h30
Friday: 08h00 to 14h30
We are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays although our professional staff can often be reached on their emails after hours or by prior arrangement.

Foreign Patents and the PCT

The popular term "worldwide patent" is based on a fallacy. "Worldwide patents" do not exist. In general, separate protection must be applied for in each country individually. However, a handful of regional patent organisations do exist which cover patent protection in more than one country, for example, ARIPO, the Eurasian Patent Office, the European Patent Office, the Gulf Co-operation Countries, and OAPI.

The first step (for our South African clients) to obtaining patent protection in several countries is normally the filing of a provisional patent application at the South African Patent Office. Please click on the title "South African Patent" for more information, in this respect.

Thereafter, within 12 months of the filing of such South African provisional patent application, you will need to file a complete patent application in each country of the world in which you require protection (including South Africa) so as to claim the earlier priority date of your South African provisional patent application under the International Patent Convention (also referred to as the Paris Convention). Most important countries are members of this convention. However, it is important to notify us at your very first contact with us of the countries in which you wish to obtain patent protection as patent applications should be filed in all countries which are not members of the Paris Convention before your invention is disclosed to the public and, preferably, as soon as possible. Please click on the title "Paris Convention Countries" for a list of Paris Convention members.

It is important to note at this stage that many countries are members of the PCT (Patent Co-operation Treaty) and instead of filing separate Paris Convention applications for these countries a single PCT application is normally recommended before the conclusion of the 12 month Convention period. Please click on the title "PCT Member Countries" for a list of PCT members.

The PCT Route

The PCT (Patent Co-operation Treaty) is a route to obtaining the grant of separate (national) patents in 148 countries (as of 4 October 2013), including South Africa. A single PCT application is filed, designating the countries envisaged at that stage for protection. A key advantage of this route is that costs are contained at this stage to between about R 25 000.00 and R 35 000.00, for an invention of average complexity, for the preparation and filing of the PCT application if filed in the name of a private individual who is a national of South Africa or more than one such individual. If even one of the applicants is not a private individual who is a national of South Africa then extra costs of about R 10 000.00 can be expected.

The PCT route includes, at no extra charge, an international search by an International Searching Authority, typically the Austrian Patent Office. This will give a good indication of the patentability of the invention before patenting is proceeded with in the individual PCT contracting states.

By requesting an international examination, the applicant will be afforded the opportunity to argue and/or amend the application in light of the Examiner's objections with a view to obtaining a clear preliminary examination report. The costs of requesting such international examination are about R 15 000.00 (at current exchange rates) if all the applicants are private individual who are nationals of South Africa. If even one of the applicants is not a private individual who is a national of South Africa then extra costs of about R 10 000.00 can be expected. The costs of arguing and/or amending the application in light of the Examiner's objections are typically between about R5 000.00 and R10 000.00 if the matter is of simple to average complexity.

Before expiry of a 30 month period from the earliest priority date (normally the date of filing of the South African provisional patent application, as described above), separate national or regional patent application(s) must be filed at the usual fee levels.

For more information on the individual countries, please select an appropriate country from the pull-down "Select a region" list at the top left hand side of this page or return to our home page and select a country using the interactive map of the world.

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Patent Litigation Handbook South Africa By JF Luterek Pr.Eng
Click here
Important Memorandum on PCT National Phase in South Africa
Click here
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