South Africa

Types of protection

Patent: A patent may be granted for any new invention which incorporates an inventive step and can be used or applied in trade and industry or agriculture. If the renewal fee is paid annually before the expiration of the third year from the date of filing in South Africa, a patent can last up to 20 years.1

Aesthetic Design: An Aesthetic Design protects the shape, form, pattern and decorative appearance of a product or article. An aesthetic design must be new and original, possess beauty in its shape, form or ornamentation, and be able to be produced by an industrial process. Aesthetic designs are granted one period of 15 years from the date of filing.

Functional Design: LIke the aesthetic design, a functional design must also be new and produced by an industrial process. However, the shape of the invention must be dictated by its function. Functional designs are granted for one period of 10 years from the date of filing.2

Provisional Patent Application: Under the South African Patents Act, an individual is allowed to file a provisional patent application. However, it is advisable for the applicant to seek the assistance of a patent attorney when doing so. Once filed, the extent of the protection will depend on the wording and content of the description of the invention.3

Convention and treaty membership

South Africa became a member of the Patent Cooperation Treaty in 1999, and is also a signatory of numerous treaties and conventions including, but not limited to the following:

  • Paris Convention
  • Budapest Treaty
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)4

International, National and Regional applications

For information regarding how to file international, regional or national patent applications in each country, we welcome you to contact us.