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Joanne van Harmelen

Partner | Patent Attorney

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About me

Dr. Joanne van Harmelen is a qualified attorney with over 15 years of experience in the legal profession. She specialises in patent filing and prosecution in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and chemicals sectors as well as advising clients on related regulatory and IP commercial matters.

Joanne’s approach to advising clients is to consider holistically the commercial and intellectual property aspects of the clients’ business. Her expertise extends to the assessment of the patentability of inventions, preparation and filing of patent applications locally and abroad, the performance of freedom-to-operate assessments, general IP commercial transactional advice, IP due diligence assessments, and advice 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. Joanne is also able to assist clients with the filing of plant breeders rights applications in South Africa and abroad.

Her clients include leading international biotechnology companies and start-ups with operations in Africa, North America, Europe, Australasia, and Asia.

Joanne has been consistently recognised as leading patent and IP lawyer by a number of rating agencies, including Chambers & Partners, IAM Global Leaders, IAM Patent 1000, Managing Intellectual Property IP Stars, The Legal 500 and Best Lawyers®.

Practice Area(s)

  • Life sciences and biotechnology
  • Chemicals and pharmaceuticals
  • Plant breeders’ rights
  • IP commercial matters
  • Life sciences and publicly financed research regulatory matters

List of academic qualification(s) including institution and year of completion:

  • PhD, Medical Microbiology – University of Cape Town | 1999
  • BSc (Honours) – Rhodes University | 1992
  • BSc – Rhodes University | 1993
  • LLB – Unisa | 2008

List of professional qualification(s):

  • Admitted Attorney | 2009
  • Patent Attorney | 2009

Joanne is a member of the following professional institutions:

  • SAIIPL – South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law (fellow)
  • LESI – Licensing Executives Society International (co-Chair of Life Sciences Committee)
  • LES South Africa – Licensing Executives Society South Africa (vice-President of the board)
  • AIPPI (Association Internationale pour la Protection de la Propriété Intellectuelle)

Joanne is consistently recognised as a leading/recommended lawyer by:

  • The Legal 500 EMEA, 2016 to 2023 – Intellectual Property – Recommended / Key Lawyer (South Africa)
  • Best Lawyers®, 2017 to 2023 – Healthcare (South Africa)
  • Listed in “IP Stars: Patents” by Managing IP | 2016 – 2024
  • IAM Patent 1000, 2016 to 2023 – Highly recommended for Prosecution and Recommended for Transactions (South Africa)
  • IAM Global Leaders, 2021 to 2024 (South Africa)

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