Non-Patentable Inventions

  1. The following are not patentable subject matter in South Africa:
  • Discoveries
  • Scientific theories
  • Mathematical methods
  • Aesthetic creations (e.g. literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works)
  • Methods of conducting business, playing games or performing mental acts
  • Computer programs
  • The presentation of information
  • Methods of treatment of the human or animal body through surgery, therapy or diagnosis practiced on the human or animal body
  1. In the case of business methods and computer programs, the restriction only applies to inventions which relate to pure business methods and/or computer programs per se, not to inventions which merely make use of or incorporate business methods or computer programs.
  2. In the case of methods of treatment of the human or animal body, the restriction typically only applies to in vivo treatment of the human or animal body, but does not exclude in vitro treatment, or a substance for use in a method of treatment.
  3. First medical claims are allowed in South Africa – i.e. inventions relating to a known substance for use in a new method of treatment, provided the substance has not been used in any such method.  It is not yet clear whether second medical claims or Swiss-type claims will be enforceable in South Africa.

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