Patent Procedure

Please click here for a diagrammatic representation of the patenting procedure.

  1. Obtaining a patent, whether in South Africa only or also in other countries, is generally a two-fold process, which commences with filing a provisional patent application, including a specification, drawings and set of formal documents, at the South African Patent Office in Pretoria.  The provisional patent application has a maximum duration of 12 months, which is referred to as the “priority period”.
  2. During the 12 month priority period, an applicant may freely disclose the invention, internationally, including licensing, assigning or otherwise trading with the provisional patent application.
  3. At or before expiry of the 12 month priority period, the provisional patent application must be completed, either (i) in South Africa only (thus limiting the patentee’s monopoly rights to South Africa), or (ii) as one or more convention patent applications in foreign countries, or (iii) as a PCT application.  A patentee’s rights are ultimately limited to the specific countries and/or regions in which patent protection is procured.
  4. South Africa has a so-called “deposit system” for patents – i.e. patent applications do not undergo formal examination for the substantive patentability requirements of inventions.
  5. There is no provision for opposition to the registration of a patent application.
  6. After a complete South African application has been filed and once all formal requirements have been met, the application is accepted by the Registrar of Patents, who then issues a Notice of Acceptance.
  7. The accepted patent application is subsequently published in the South African Patent Journal within a period not exceeding three months from the acceptance date.  From the publication date the patent is granted in South Africa.
  8. Patents have a maximum duration of 20 years in South Africa from the filing date of the complete patent application, subject to payment of annual renewal fees from the third year after the complete application filing date. 
  9. Please contact us for advice on how to obtain patent protection in other countries and jurisdictions.

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