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Published Date: January 11, 2017


The year 2016 can best be described in one word: Paradoxical. It was a year that defied convention and a year that has most certainly set the world on an interesting and unnerving course for at least the next decade. After the shock of Brexit, the world was stunned again when the citizens of the world’s largest economy voted for Donald Trump as their next President.

In South Africa on 31 March 2016, the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled unanimously in favour of the applicants in the matter regarding Nkandla, President Zuma’s private homestead, as well as on the powers of the Public Protector. The judgment was a fantastic outcome for the then Public Protector, Adv. Thuli Madonsela, the country and the Constitution. Adams & Adams was proud to be a part of the historic judgment as Adv. Madonsela’s attorneys of record.

There were many significant milestones for Adams & Adams in 2016 – too numerous to mention here – but it is worth highlighting a few events as we look forward to what 2017 holds in store.


Of course, we were delighted to reveal a new marketing and advertising campaign under the catchphrase, “Africa’s Time Waits for No One.” It is that statement of fact and spirit that pivots the campaign as we look to expand our influence and reach in Africa. The pace of development and growth in Africa is startling and exciting. It’s no longer a case of whether Africa is ready, but rather a proclamation that Africa is not waiting for you anymore. Adams & Adams already representing around 240 Fortune 500 companies with their African success stories – both commercially and with their intellectual property portfolios and commercial interests.

In line with our expansion and advancement efforts, our firm was pleased to establish an Associate office in The Gambia which also services Liberia and Sierra Leone. This brings to 18 the number of associated offices in different African countries that form part of the Adams & Adams Africa Network (AAAN). The 4th Africa IP Network Meeting was also held at the firm’s offices in Pretoria. Renowned actor, director, writer and playwright, John Kani, opened the Meeting as Guest Speaker and captivated the audience with stories of his upbringing and of his time in Hollywood. Then it was down to the business of IP Law in the African territories, and how best to serve the interests of our clients. The 5th Africa IP Network Meeting takes place again in Pretoria later in 2017. In addition, proposed new Associate Offices are planned for Ethiopia and Zimbabwe (ARIPO – TM) this year.

Adams & Adams used two major opportunities overseas to spread the good news of the firm’s legal strength in Africa. The first was a successful Africa Roadshow held in New York before the INTA 2016 Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. The roadshow provided an economic overview of Africa; as well as sessions and panel discussions on pitfalls and strategies in protecting your IP rights in Africa; transfer pricing and IP; innovation in Africa; competition law, South Africa’s IP policy and substantive examination; and effective anti-counterfeiting strategies. Early in 2017, professionals from the firm will be travelling to various territories in Asia and India to meet with clients and to discuss business with new contacts. Should you be interested in engaging with any of our Partners during their trips, kindly email for further details.

Then, in November, the firm hosted the 8th conference of the BRICS Intellectual Property Forum in London. The conference was co-hosted with Forum members Daniel Advogados from Brazil, Gorodissky and Partners from Russia, Remfry & Sagar from India and CCPIT from China.  Leading individuals from Europe-based industry and top legal practitioners presented a conference programme that was carefully drawn up for delegates to learn, first hand, of actual experiences and strategies in BRICS IP prosecution and litigation, as well as of the latest developments in IP law and practice in the BRICS countries. Adams & Adams will be releasing a compilation of the BRICS IP Forum presentations shortly. To receive your copy, email   


After more than a century of dynamic legal practice, our firm relentlessly strives to advance its leadership position as the largest intellectual property law firm in the southern hemisphere and a giant in commercial law on the African continent. Our professionals are central to our success.

Gavin Noeth was one of two ‘heavy-weight’ consultants – the other being Tim de Wet – to join the progressive commercial law team at Adams & Adams Attorneys in 2016 – their aim: to mentor and assist the young, dynamic and ambitious groups within the firm’s Commercial, Property and Litigation Department. The expanding commercial practice has an enviable track record and client base, with many luminaries and experts in the fields of administrative, public procurement, property, constitutional, competition law and litigation.

In line with the growing demand for our exceptional Commercial Litigation services, the firm extended their teams resources to cover both Pretoria and Johannesburg. Incidentally, in 2016 our litigation team headed assisted in successfully challenged the constitutional validity of statutory powers of the Minister of Police to unilaterally suspend and institute disciplinary proceedings against the Executive Director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), Robert McBride.

Many of our IP professional continued to receive recognition for their sterling work in the form of international accolades and Tier 1 confirmations, and collectively Adams & Adams was confirmed as the leading law firm in Africa by Managing IP for 2016, for the second year in a row. We celebrate the firm’s phenomenal achievements in uniting and advancing the business of good intellectual property in territories across the continent, and we are grateful that our global clients continue to trust the legal strength of Adams & Adams as we continue to extend our reach to support commercial interests in Africa’s growing economies, and in so doing establishing strong Intellectual Property and Commercial services in key business hubs across the continent.

Results of the Global IP Survey (trade marks) will be released in February 2017, as well as the results of the MIP Firm of the Year (Africa) at the MIP Awards.


The Annual IP Crammer® presented by Adams & Adams took place on 27 October at the Maslow Conference Centre. Close to a hundred in-house legal representatives and C-Suite VIPs attended the Intellectual Property event that focused on IP developments and updates relevant to corporates and individuals throughout Africa. Partners and Senior Associates presented updates and commentary ranging from trade mark law and recent cases, to patent developments. An enthralling keynote address was delivered by maverick entrepreneur and Uber’s head of business in Sub-Saharan Africa, Justin Spratt. It is hoped that this sharing of knowledge will assist clients with their strategies and decisions regarding their IP Portfolios. Look out for details regarding the new-look and hi-tech 2017 IP Crammer®.

The Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoDSA) published the King IV Report on Corporate Governance in 2016 – the fourth iteration of the codes since the King Committee was formed in 1992. In an effort to move away from compliance governance or the ‘box-tick approach’, the new codes also differentiate between principles and recommended practices and how these can be used to achieve sustainable outcomes. In calling “time” on the traditional approach to governance, one of the major shifts the King IV aims to bring about is greater stakeholder inclusion in corporate decision making – by broadening and magnifying the definition of ‘good corporate citizenship’ as part of the business model. Adams & Adams is a proud Platinum Sponsor of the King IV Report, a relationship that continues throughout 2017. For commentary, click here.

The Sun International CEO SleepOut™ took place on the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg this July. Adams & Adams was a proud sponsor and legal partner of the Trust and the event. The unique event raised over R30-million in pledges.

We trust that this year will be a successful one for you and your colleagues and we look forward to being of service.

Gérard du Plessis

How can we help you?

We have offices in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, please contact your nearest office for any legal enquiry or assistance.