Intellectual Property is an umbrella term for all the various types of protection available for inventors and authors for their literary and artistic works. The main types of Intellectual Property (IP) that can be legally protected are Patents, Trademarks, and Copyright. These types of IP are protected by laws in South Africa and other countries. Each of these laws consist of regulations detailing how these rights are obtained and managed.
A patent grants an inventor exclusive rights to an invention in the country where a patent has been granted. It should always be kept in mind that “world patents” do not exist and separate applications must be filed for each country individually.
Generally, the person who applies for the patent is presumed to be the inventor. The inventor, his successor or co-inventors own the rights to the patent. In the context of an employment relationship, as agreed in an employment contract, the employer owns the patent rights for inventions created by employees. However, inventors retain the right to be designated on the patent, regardless of who filed the application.
The grant of a patent gives a patentee the right to prevent others from making, using, exercising, disposing of, offering to dispose of, or importing the patentee's invention in the country where the patent has been granted. The grant of a patent does not authorise the patentee to commercialise the invention if some aspects of the invention are covered by patents held by somebody else.
In most countries, patent applications are examined to see if the invention was new and has inventive merit. If found not to be either of these, then the patent application can be objected to or even rejected. The costs incurred in the filing of the patent application include official fees paid to the patent offices and the patent attorney. Fees are not refundable as the application has been filed and the work has been done. We do not guarantee that every patent application filed will result in a valid granted patent.
Please note that we do not conduct novelty searches for inventions before filing the associated patent application. Although we do conduct such searches when instructed to do so, the cost of such a search often exceeds the cost of drafting and filing a patent application. The results of a novelty search are never fail-safe as it is not possible to search all available published material. You can, of course, conduct your own internet searches using Google Patents, and the websites of the USPTO and WIPO. Even if we do perform a comprehensive search and find nothing, there will understandably always be a risk that an invention is not patentable.