“A patent professional is someone who possesses technical skills, a scientific approach, legal knowledge, and a futuristic vision. Yes, they are rare.” – Ujjwal Jha

To become a patent attorney, the prospective patent attorney must be in possession of a technical degree, such as a BSc or BEng, and a law degree. According to the laws of South Africa, all persons who wish to practice as an attorney (not only patent attorneys) must also complete two years of compulsory vocational training under the direction of a qualified attorney. Once those two years are done, an attorney may apply to become an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa. Prospective patent attorneys are also required to pass all the modules set by the Patent Examination Board in order to register as a patent attorney. This is usually a two year course done concurrently with the vocational training. It therefore takes approximately 10 years for a person to qualify as a patent attorney in South Africa. As such, patent attorneys are highly qualified professionals and have trained for many years in order to competently handle patent applications on behalf of clients.

In South Africa, an individual inventor is able to file a provisional patent application at the Patent Office on his own. However, provisional patent applications never proceed to a granted patent, meaning that if the application is not completed, the inventor will never obtain any patent rights. Only registered patent attorneys may file complete patent applications, which eventually leads to a granted patent.

Many inventors prefer to draft and file their own provisional patent application and then bring it to a patent attorney to file the complete application to save on the initial filing costs of the provisional patent application. However, the costs for filing a complete patent application claiming priority from a provisional patent application which was not drafted by a patent attorney, usually incurs greater costs. This is because if the patent attorney drafted the provisional patent application, most of the hard work will have been done and because attorneys sell their time, the more time spent the higher the costs become. It is therefore very likely that the inventor, hiring a patent attorney only to complete his provisional patent application, will probably end up paying more than had he/she hired a patent attorney from the start and thereby losing his initial cost savings by filing the provisional application himself/herself.

Patent attorneys are also skilled and experienced in drafting patent claims, which is the part that defines the monopoly the patentee will enjoy. Patent claims are the most important part of a patent specification and it is therefore critical that the claims are properly drafted by a patent attorney. It is truly an art form to draft patent claims as it requires a lot of critical thinking, knowledge of the subject matter of the invention and drafting skills.

If you are ready to proceed with a patent application to protect your invention, please contact us today.

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