Protection In Foreign Countries

Protection In Foreign Countries


The following information is supplied for the convenience of our clients and is to be considered as a brief and simplified outline only.


Foreign patent applications must be filed within 12 months of the filing date of the first patent application if the original filing date is to be retained internationally. It is not extendible. 

The popular term "world patent" is based on a fallacy. "World patents" do not exist. Instead, separate protection must be applied for in each country individually, except for the following:

The PCT Route

The PCT (viz Patent Co-operation Treaty), also called an International Patent Application, is a route to obtaining the grant of separate patents in 153 countries, including South Africa. A single PCT application is filed. A key advantage of this route is that costs are contained at this stage. By requesting an international examination, an examination report is obtained. Before the expiry of a 30-month period from the priority date, separate national or regional patent application(s) must be filed at the usual fee levels. As a private individual who is a resident and/or national of South Africa a substantial discount is obtained on the PCT route International Phase (75% of most of the official fees).

The PCT route includes, at no extra charge, an international search and patentability opinion prepared by an International Searching Authority, such as the European Patent Office. This will give a good indication of the patentability of the invention before patenting is proceeded within the individual PCT contracting states.


The European Patent

This patent covers any of the European countries which are members of the European Patent Convention (not all countries in Europe).


The OAPI Patent

This patent covers all of the following African countries:

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.

The ARIPO Patent

This patent covers any of the following African countries designated by the patentee:

Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Principe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

South Africa is not a member of either ARIPO or OAPI but is a member of the International Patent Convention (also referred to as the Paris Convention) and is a contracting state of the PCT.

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