Patent Law is regulated by the Patent Act 57 of 1978. A patent is an invention, and it will be granted for any new invention which involves an inventive step and which is by requirement capable of being used in trade, agriculture or industry.

An inventor should at all costs ensure that it does not disclose any part of the invention in order to meet the strict requirement of novelty. Therefore, it is a must that the invention should be novel throughout the entire world and may only be made public once the patent has been filed.

The following are not patentable: a discovery; a scientific theory; a mathematical method; a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic creation; a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business; a program for a computer; the presentation of information; an invention the publication or exploitation of which would generally be expected to encourage offensive or immoral behaviour; any variety of animal or plant or any essentially biological process for the production of animals or plants, not being a microbiological process or the product of such a process; a method of treatment of the animal or human body by surgery or therapy.

How long is a patent valid?

A patent is valid for 20 years and annual renewal fees are payable from the 4th year onwards. Please note that a patent cannot be extended beyond its full term.