Patent attorneys provide guidance, assisting with the patent application process from acquisition to enforcement, and commercialisation. They litigate intellectual property matters and issues, including those for patents in South Africa.
How to Patent an Idea
It is important to note that in order to be patentable, an idea must be novel. This means that it must not be publicly available anywhere in the world, whether in South Africa or abroad. It should also not have been used on a commercial scale. Preferably, the idea should include inventive technical or technological features.
There are two options for pursuing patent protection in South Africa
Provisional Patent Application
A provisional patent protects the invention for a short period of time (12 months) but can have multiple advantages. This patent can be done without a patent attorney, should you wish to proceed independently.
- Compared with a complete patent application, the timeframe for filing of a provisional patent is shorter. This is due to the leniency of provisional patent requirements. The level at which the invention needs to be described is less than that of a complete patent, meaning that the invention may be patented at an earlier stage of development.
- A provisional patent application reserves the protection of the invention while it is under investigation for novelty, technical merit, and commercial prospects. This gives the inventor time to improve and work on the invention further while it is under provisional protection. These developments can be added into the permanent application at a later stage. It also gives the inventor time to begin commercialisation of the invention.
- It is important to remember that before a provisional patent expires, a complete patent application must be filed to ensure further protection. A provisional patent does not automatically lead to the grant of a complete patent.
- A patent attorney may recommend a provisional patent application depending on the status and completion of the invention
A Complete Patent Application
A complete patent application does not need to be based on a provisional patent application, and it may therefore be filed in the first instance. In such a case, it would have, for a period of 12 months, the same reserving effect as a provisional patent application. A patent attorney will assist and guide you through the whole process. It is vital to maintain secrecy before filing a first patent application, as the invention will not be protected from intellectual property theft.
Step 1: Patent search – Although not mandatory, it is advisable for an applicant to conduct a search for the invention. A novelty will reveal similar inventions (possibly novelty-destroying inventions) in the same technical field. A patent attorney can assist with this process using the correct resources and tools.
Step 2: Patent application – Once your patent attorney has advised you on the best way forward, you can proceed with a patent application. Your attorney will guide you through this process, ensuring a higher possibility for a successful outcome.
Step 3: Patent grant – It is important to note that grant of a patent application is not guaranteed in foreign examining countries, but it is in South Africa which is presently non-examining. Once a patent has been granted, however, a patent attorney can assist with the enforcement of the patent protection. A patent will only be valid in the country or region you have applied for the patent in.
With years’ of experience, and multiple qualifications, Adams & Adams patent partners and associates are able to provide services in all aspects of patent law, including drafting and filing of patent applications for locally originating inventions, the drafting and filing of patent applications originating from abroad, as well as drafting and filing of patent applications in the rest of Africa. Contact us today for a patent application consultation and other patent related services.