Intellectual Property Law South Africa: Ways to Protect Your Intangible Assets

Intellectual property assets are vital for creating shareholder/stakeholder value and can oftentimes be more valuable to a business than tangible assets. Intellectual property value will vary from business to business. To recap from our previous article that elaborates on the types of intellectual property, IP law protects intangible assets such as patents, design, trade mark copyright and know how.

Examples of intangible assets include:

  • Exclusivity rights to use of a name in relation to a product or service in a jurisdiction.
  • The design of a unique the look of a car
  • A patent in relation to a formula
  • The lyrics of a song
  • A secret recipe

In an asset sale, businesses may profit largely from the value of their intellectual property.

Methods of Protecting Your IP in South Africa

Although it is advised to hire an intellectual property lawyer to be assured of the protection under the IP Law in South Africa, the following considerations must be borne in mind when it comes to Intellectual Property rights.

Ensure That Your Idea Is Unique

Before filing for a patent individuals must ensure that their idea, or product, is unique to anything that has been filed before anywhere in the world. On the other hand, a trade mark must ideally be a coined term and importantly not descriptive. Further copyright must be original and not copied from a another source. Intellectual Property registration are filed through the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPO).

Ensure Strictest Confidentiality and Limited Access

In order to keep your IP from being compromised, it should be protected under safe encryptions (if filed digitally) and stored in a secure environment where there is access only to relevant, need-to-know parties. Parties who have access to privileged information should be sworn under a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement.

Understand Intellectual Property Rights

Especially if an individual opts to protect their intellectual property independently, understanding their intellectual property rights will be the first step towards safeguarding their intangible assets, and defending a case in the event of compromise.

Keep Protected Records

Maintaining an accurate record of events of the idea from conception, to implementation (if relevant) will work as indisputable evidence of the ownership of that intangible asset. This makes it easier to defend the safety of the asset, and (should the need arise for an intellectual property attorney) will help build and defend a solid case if necessary.

Don’t Waste Time

To minimise the risk of losing an original idea to someone else, it’s imperative that it is registered without delay. With the help of an intellectual property attorney, this process becomes easier and faster for the individual.

Adams & Adams is an internationally recognised, leading African law firm that specialises in providing intellectual property and commercial services. Our Intellectual Property law professionals assist our clients with protecting, enforcing and commercialising their intellectual property. Our attorneys deal with all matters relating copyright, franchising, trade mark infringement, patents and other related aspects of corporate intellectual property law in South Africa. Contact us for more information on our IP services, as well as legal advice.

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.

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