following information is supplied for the convenience of
our clients or potential clients and is to be considered
as a brief and simplified outline only.
Procedure for obtaining patent protection for your invention
in South Africa
to South African practice, either a provisional or a complete
specification may be lodged with the application for a patent.
you have not worked out your idea in detail yet, and intend
to conduct further experiments and make further improvements,
you are advised to instruct us to prepare and lodge for
you at the South African Patent Office a provisional specification
initially in order to provide you with temporary protection.
The provisional specification is an important document,
which will later form the basis for the complete specification
and/or any foreign patent applications. It should be drawn
up professionally and with great care and should contain
as much detail as possible. A poorly drawn provisional specification
may be completely worthless from a legal point of view.
Furthermore, the disclosure of any aspect of an invention
not properly covered in a prior-filed provisional application
will later preclude the valid obtainment of protection for
such aspect. As of the year 2009, our charges for the preparation
of a provisional patent specification of average complexity
are normally between about R 10 000.00 and R 15 000.00.
Obviously, specifications of greater complexity than the
average will cost more.
filing of a patent application accompanied by a provisional
specification must be followed by a fresh patent application
with a complete specification in order to obtain a patent.
Such fresh patent application must be filed within twelve
months from the date of filing the provisional specification
(an extension of three months can be obtained on payment
of a fee) in order to claim priority from the date of filing
of the provisional specification. As of the year 2009, our
charges for the preparation of a complete patent specification,
based on an earlier provisional patent specification drafted
by ourselves, are on average between about R 6 000.00 and
R 10 000.00 depending on the nature and quantity of new
information to be added to the specification.
a case where the full practical details of your invention
have already been developed, a complete specification may
be lodged "in the first instance" i.e. without filing a
provisional application initially. This procedure will render
the overall cost somewhat lower than in the case where a
provisional specification is lodged initially. As of the
year 2009, our charges for the preparation of a complete
patent specification "in the first instance" (of average
complexity) are normally between about R 12 000.00 and R
if for the time being you only require temporary protection
for the purpose of testing the commercial possibilities
of an invention, you may prefer to lodge a provisional specification
initially even if the information available might be adequate
for a complete specification. In this manner you can reduce
your initial cost and prolong the maximum total term of
your patent by up to 15 months.
after a provisional specification has been filed you make
further important discoveries or improvements in connection
with the invention before the period for lodging the complete
specification has expired, you are advised to have one or
more additional provisional specifications lodged in order
to protect the improvement or new discovery. Subsequently
it is possible to cognate (combine) the different provisional
specifications in a single complete specification. If such
further discoveries or improvements are not included in
one or more additional provisional applications same must
be kept secret in order to be validly included in a subsequent
a complete patent application is still pending (i.e. not
yet granted), fairly associated improvements or modifications
subsequent to the filing of the complete application can
be included in the complete application by way of a supplementary
disclosure (provided such improvements or modifications
have been kept secret).
a complete application has been granted, subsequent improvements
or modifications to the invention can be protected by the
filing of an application for a patent of addition (provided
such improvements or modifications have been kept secret).
Otherwise, an independent patent application can be filed
to protect such subsequent improvements or modifications.
Whether or not a patent of addition is called for rather
than an independent patent has to be determined carefully
in each specific case.
is important to note that a complete specification is also
deemed to have been lodged in South Africa in cases where
a PCT application designating South Africa is lodged, provided
that an application for national phase entry of such PCT
application is filed at the South African Patent Office
within the prescribed period (31 months from the earliest
priority date of the PCT application).
is also important to note that the South African Patent
Office does not investigate the validity of patent claims.
However, the validity of a patent can be attacked at any
time by others.
Procedure for obtaining patent protection for your invention
in countries outside of South Africa
respect to obtaining patent protection in countries outside
of South Africa, it is important to note that South Africa
is a member of the International Patent Convention (also
referred to as the Paris Convention). In terms of this convention,
you are entitled to claim the priority of the date of application
of your South African patent, should you wish to obtain
patent protection for your invention in other countries,
on condition that these foreign patent applications and/or
a PCT application are lodged within one year from the date
of first filing in South Africa (or another member country
of the convention).
important countries are members of this convention. For
the purpose of priority rights in foreign countries, a professionally
prepared provisional specification filed in South Africa
will form a suitable basis.
click on the title "Foreign Patents
and the PCT" for more information, in this respect.