Patents

The South African patents system is governed by the Patents Act, 1978. The South African patent office accepts provisional and complete patent applications. As a member of the Paris Convention, complete applications may claim priority to local or foreign applications within 12 months of the earliest priority date and as a member of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the patent office accepts national phase applications up to 34 months from the earliest priority date.

National phase applications

National phase applications from PCT international application may be filed up to 31 months from the priority date (extendable up to 34 months on payment of an additional fee.

For urgent filings, to secure a filing date and to receive an application number, only the international application number is required. With this, the necessary forms may be prepared and the application filed, provided the required documents below are filed within the specified periods.

The following documents are required in order to process the application:

  • Signed form P3 (declaration and power of attorney) – within 6 months* of the filing date
  • Signed form P26 (Statement on Use of Indigenous Resource) – within 6 months* of the filing date
  • Deed of assignment – within 6 months* of the filing date
  • Translation of the specification, claims, and text in the drawings within 3 months of the filing date (if the international application was not published in English)
  • Priority document (if rule 17.1 of the PCT was not complied with)
  • FICA documentation (in order to comply with South African anti-money laundering regulations)
Convention applications

Direct filing under the Paris Convention in South Africa has to be done within 12 months of the earliest priority date.

For urgent filings, the following are the minimum requirements to secure the filing date and to receive an official application number:

  • Full names of the applicants and inventors
  • Title of the invention
  • Priority application numbers and priority dates

The following documentation and deadlines will apply:

  • Signed form P3 (declaration and power of attorney) – within 6 months* of the filing date
  • Signed form P26 (Statement on Use of Indigenous Resource) – within 6 months* of the filing date
  • Deed of assignment – within 6 months* of the filing date
  • Translation of the specification, claims, and text in the drawings within 3 months of the filing date (if the international application was not published in English)
  • Certified priority documents and a translation thereof it the priority application is not in English
  • FICA documentation (in order to comply with South African anti-money laundering regulations)

* may be extended on payment of a fee.

Trade marks

The Trade Marks Act, 1993 (as amended) governs the South African trade mark registration system. The trade marks office accepts applications for trade marks in relation to goods and services as well as certification and collective trade marks.  A trade mark is viewed as any sign capable of being represented graphically and may include word marks, device, patterns, signatures, sounds etc.

South Africa does not allow for multi-class applications and a separate application must be filed for each class of interest.  The 10th Edition of the Nice Classification system is followed.

Requirements for filing

In order to file a trade mark application, the following is required:

  • The full names and addresses of the applicants
  • Priority application number, country and priority date, if priority is claimed
  • The representation of the mark
  • Class in which the application is to be filed
  • The specification of goods and services

Additional requirements and deadlines:

  • Power of attorney (may be late filed at no additional cost)
  • Certified copies of any priority documents
  • Translations of priority documents which are not in English

After filing, the marks will be examined for formal requirements and prior conflicting entries.  If accepted, the Registrar will issue a notice of acceptance and publish the trade mark application in the Government Gazette.  The application will be open to opposition for a period of 3 months, which period is extendable.  If no opposition is entered, the Registrar will issue the registration certificate.

Trade mark registrations are valid for 10 years and may be renewed for like periods.

Registered designs

The Designs Act of 1993, (as amended) governs the South African design registration system. Both functional and aesthetic designs may be registered in South Africa. The deadline for claiming priority from a foreign design application is 6 months from the priority date.

South Africa does not allow for multi-class applications and a separate application must be filed for each class of interest. International
Classification of Industrial Designs, originally adopted by the Locarno Union in 1971, as subsequently amended and put into force on 1 January 1989

Requirements for filing

In order to file a registered design application, the following is required:

  • The full names and addresses of the applicants
  • Priority application number, country and priority date, if priority is claimed
  • The representations of the design
  • Classes in which the application is to be filed

Additional requirements and deadlines:

  • Power of attorney (may be late filed at no additional cost)
  • Certified copies of any priority documents
  • Translations of priority documents which are not in English

Functional design registrations are valid for 10 years and aesthetic designs are valid for 15 years.