The governmental agency in charge of handling intellectual property rights in South Africa is the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) located in Pretoria. CIPC was created by combining the Office of Companies and Intellectual Property Enforcement (OCIPE) and the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO). CIPC is a judicial entity, and has jurisdiction throughout the territory of the Republic of South Africa.
Filing Patents in South Africa
Patent attorneys filing for a patent in South Africa must include a patent order form, specifications, claims, and any necessary drawings. In addition, any portion of the specifications and priority document not in English must be accompanied by an English translation. Also, a simple power of attorney is required.
Patent term for patents is 20 years, and the utility model and design terms both expire 15 years from the filing date.
PCT National Stage in South Africa
South Africa is a member of the PCT and the Paris Convention. When an application is filed as a PCT National Stage application, the national stage entry deadline is 31 months from the PCT application’s priority date. This period is extendable up to 34 months. Applicants in South Africa and their patent attorneys must comply with certain genetic heritage and anti-money laundering requirements. Filing power of attorney at the national stage is required, and English translation extensions are not available. There are no fees for excess claims.
Recent IP Legal Trends in South Africa
National filings in South Africa have experienced an increase in the last couple of years after the sharp decline in 2008 and 2009. As a part of recent initiatives to incentivize innovation, legislature has enacted laws that protect publicly funded research and development efforts, equivalent to the Bayh-Dole Act in the US. Such initiatives have not yet been fully implemented.