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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

We are sure you have some legal questions you need answered. We have some great news - we are here to help! To make things easier and more convenient for you, we have compiled a list of questions prospective clients typically have to ask us in addition to their answers. If the question you have in mind is not on this list, feel free to contact us directly with your unique question via email by simply clicking below. We will get back to you as soon as we can.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO REGISTER A TRADE MARK IN SOUTH AFRICA?

Under normal circumstances, a smooth trade mark application from filing to registration would take approximately two years. However, many variables can hold up the process. Rest assured that our experienced team are committed to resolving your trade mark matters efficiently and effectively. Click here to chat with us about your unique trade mark filing needs.

FOR HOW LONG ARE TRADE MARK RIGHTS VALID IN SOUTH AFRICA?

In South Africa, trade mark rights exist in perpetuity subject to the execution of the required ten-year renewal fees. In simpler terms, trade mark rights can be valid forever in our region, as long as the renewal fees are paid to the relevant governmental body every ten years. Click here to gain our assistance in registering your trade mark rights today.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO REGISTER NATIONAL PHASE PATENT RIGHTS IN SOUTH AFRICA?

In the usual course of events, a patent application from filing to registration would take approximately one year. There are, however, several instances where your application could experience delays. Click here to chat with us about your unique patent filing needs.

FOR HOW LONG ARE PATENT RIGHTS VALID IN SOUTH AFRICA?

In South Africa, patent rights are valid for 20 years, subject to required annuity or renewal fees. Patent rights grant its holders a monopoly on the patented concept within the country of filing and prevent others from importing, manufacturing, utilising, exercising, advertising or selling the patented product without obtaining consent from the patent holder. Do you have a follow-up question? Click here to chat with us about your unique patent filing needs.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF FILING A TRADE MARK APPLICATION IN SOUTH AFRICA?

The process of filing a trade mark in our jurisdiction is procedural in nature. First, our clients would need to provide us with the requisite information and digital assets to initiate the application process with the relevant governing body in South Africa. Within two days of successfully filing their trade mark(s), our team will digitally issue the client with a filing receipt. This filing receipt serves as proof that the applicant successfully submitted their trade mark application to the relevant body in our jurisdiction. Thereafter, each trade mark is examined by an official South African Trade Mark Examiner to ascertain its validity. On completion of this assessment, the Examiner may provide one of four responses to the application. The Examiner may; accept the trade mark, provisionally accept the trade mark subject to conditions, provisionally refuse the trade mark or have the trade mark refused entirely. Our intellectual property personnel will then assess this response and provide feedback to the client on the best manner to proceed with the application. Based on this feedback and the instructions of our client, our team of intellectual property professionals collaborate with the Examiner to execute the application to completion, where possible. To learn more about our trade mark services outside of trade mark registration, click here.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SOUTH AFRICAN PROVISIONAL AND COMPLETE PATENT APPLICATION?

A provisional patent application in South Africa is a type of initial application that provides a filing date for your invention while allowing you to delay filing a complete patent application. The purpose of a provisional application is to establish an early priority date for your invention. This means that if you file a complete patent application later, the priority date for your invention remains the same as the filing date of the provisional application. This can be important in determining patent rights in case there is similar prior art that arises after your provisional filing date. Here are a few key points regarding a provisional patent application to consider; 

 

  1. It doesn't require all the formalities and detailed information of a complete application,

  2. It doesn't need to include claims (the specific statements that define the scope of your invention),

  3. It provides you with 12 months from the provisional filing date to file a complete patent application in South Africa or any other country,

  4. It allows you to use the phrase "Patent Pending" during the 12-month period,

  5. It provides a more cost-effective way to establish an early priority date while giving you time to refine and finalize your invention's details before filing a complete application.

 

On the other hand, a complete patent application in South Africa contains all of the required information and formalities mandated to seek full patent protection. It includes detailed descriptions, claims defining the scope of the invention, drawings, if applicable, and any other relevant information. Here are a few key points regarding a complete patent application to consider; 

  1. It requires a detailed description of the invention, including claims that define the legal boundaries of the patent protection you are seeking,

  2. It needs to be filed within 12 months of the provisional filing date to claim the priority date established by the provisional application (where a provisional patent has been filed). 

 

In summary, a South African provisional patent application is a preliminary filing that provides an early priority date, allowing you to delay filing a complete application, while a complete patent application includes all the necessary details and claims required for examination and potential patent protection.

 

Filing a provisional patent application is not a requirement for the valid execution of a complete patent application, it is rather a placeholder application to the formal complete patent application. It is important to note that only a complete patent application may grant an applicant patent rights. Are you interested in securing your patent rights? Click here to chat with our patents team today.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A NATIONAL PHASE PATENT APPLICATION AND A PCT PATENT APPLICATION?

The PCT is an international treaty that provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications in multiple countries. When you file a PCT patent application, you are essentially filing a single application that serves as a placeholder for your invention in all PCT member countries. A PCT application does not result in a "PCT patent" but rather allows applicants to delay the decision to pursue individual national or regional patents for up to 30 months from the priority date (the filing date of your original application). In short, the core distinction between a PCT patent application and a national phase patent application lies in their scope and purpose. The PCT application is a unified international filing that serves as a placeholder, while the national phase application is the subsequent step of pursuing actual patent protection in specific countries. The PCT process simplifies the initial filing process and provides an extended period to decide where to seek national patents. Are you in the market to file patent rights abroad or in multiple jurisdictions?

 

It is important to note that additional international treaties relating to filing intellectual property rights in multiple countries exist outside of the PCT filing system discussed under this topic. When considering filing your foreign patent applications, it is of great value to discuss your unique ambitions with an intellectual property law expert who is suitably equipped to assist you in navigating various filing systems such as PCT, ARIPO, OAPI and others most effectively and efficiently. Click here to start a conversation with our expert patents team who can provide you with counsel on the best course of action relating to your international patent application ambitions.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF FILING A PCT PATENT APPLICATION?

The PCT application process has several stages:

  1. Filing: The applicant files a PCT application with a designated receiving office (this office is usually your national or regional patent office in your country of residence).

  2. International Search: An international search is conducted by the International Searching Authority (ISA) to identify prior art relevant to the applicant's invention.

  3. International Preliminary Examination: This is an elective step in the process that allows the applicant to request an international preliminary examination to assess the patentability of their invention more thoroughly.

  4. Publication: At this stage, the applicant's PCT application is published by the relevant bodies to disclose the details of the invention to the public.

  5. National Phase: After the international phase is successfully concluded, applicants must enter the national phase application process in individual PCT member countries where an applicant wishes to seek patent protection. This stage involves filing separate national phase patent applications in each desired region, usually within 30 months of the priority date.

  6. National Phase Patent Application: The national phase patent application is the stage where an applicant utilises their PCT application to file individual patent applications in specific countries of interest. These applications are subject to the patent laws and regulations of each country. The national phase application typically contains the information included in the PCT application, subject to translation into the official language of certain jurisdictions, which is required in some nations.

The steps following the submission of a national phase patent application will vary from nation to nation but often include actions similar to those discussed in the international phase of the PCT application.

WHAT IS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW?

Intellectual Property law is considered a set of rights, protections and methods of legal relief applied to a specific asset class that relates to a creator and/or owner's establishment and defence of, among other things, their original inventions, works of literature, music, design, slogan, logo, software and trade secrets. Owners establish legal control of these assets through; the creator's cognition or by transfer or registration of ownership. Click here to read more about De Beer Attorneys' Intellectual Property Law portfolio and offering.

DOES AN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAWYER HANDLE REAL ESTATE DISPUTES?

Intellectual Property attorneys do not handle matters relating to selling, purchasing or transferring real estate properties. However, we are happy to connect you with a trusted law firm from our local network that provides expert assistance with property law and conveyancing matters. Click here to request a reliable referral.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO REGISTER A TRADE MARK?

The cost to register your unique trade mark depends on many variables such as the different goods or services that you may wish to seek protection in respect of, whether it is a logo and/or word mark you are looking to protect, the various jurisdictions in which you wish to register these rights and so forth. Please feel free to reach out to us and explain your unique trade mark registration needs - we will be happy to generate an accurate quote for you to consider. Click here to chat with us.

I HAVE A PATENT IDEA - WHAT SHOULD I DO NEXT?

This is exciting news! Our first suggestion would be to keep this innovative idea to yourself until you have discussed it with an attorney. Next, we recommend that you schedule a consultation with an intellectual property attorney to discuss your concept and its likelihood of successful registration. Click here to chat with one of our patent law experts and protect your innovation today.

WHY IS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IMPORTANT TO MY BUSINESS?

We can understand why you have this question. On the surface, what real difference does a logo make to your company's bottom line? But, let us ask you this: if your competitor started using a logo or packaging that looked just like yours or began using your secret recipe or custom machinery, would it make a difference to your bottom line then? The value of intellectual property is that it acts as a kind of 'legal insurance' that can guard you against being put in the position of having your business infringed upon in the first place. In the unfortunate event that infringement still arises, the rights you have gained through the registration of your intellectual property assets will strengthen your case and often allow for the resolution of the matter in a more cost-effective and less time-consuming manner. In addition, intellectual property may function as a business asset having a corresponding monetary value. Click here to take your business to the next level by consulting with one of our intellectual property experts today. 

SOMEONE HAS STOLEN MY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY - WHAT SHOULD I DO?

It is incredibly frustrating and stressful to discover that someone has infringed on your intellectual property, or is accusing you of infringing on their registered rights. Every kind of intellectual property right can fall prey to this kind of civil dispute, from trade marks, copyrights and patents to trade secrets and designs. We are here to help. Our advice is to urgently seek the counsel of an intellectual property attorney to discuss the nuances of your matter. If you would like to set up a consult with one of our expert attorneys to guide you through this matter, click here.

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