We have a strong patent filing and prosecution practice, filing patent applications in South Africa; and in foreign countries, through a network of agents. Each of our directors is a registered patent attorney.
In South Africa
Due to our patent litigation experience – much of it on behalf of parties challenging patent rights – we have spent a great deal of time and effort in considering all the ways in which South African patents can be attacked. We use this knowledge for the benefit of our patent-filing clients.
There is currently no examination of South African patent applications before grant. Whilst this means that little expertise is required to secure the grant of a South African patent, it also means that errors and deficiencies in the application are not identified by the patent office in the prosecution process.
Therefore, unless great care is taken by the applicant and the attorney handling the patent application, it is very likely that any patent granted on the application will be invalid.
Whilst many grounds of invalidity may be overcome by amendments, some grounds of invalidity cannot be overcome at all; and, even if it is possible to correct, any ground of invalidity will make the patent unenforceable until the specification is amended, and will probably make it impossible to claim damages for any infringement until amendment.
We therefore strongly advise that any South African patent application should be carefully scrutinized and amended to avoid any known or reasonably foreseeable grounds of invalidity, before filing the statutory declaration and allowing the application to proceed to grant.
The following provides more information on South African patents:
In the Rest of Africa
Africa is a challenging place to do business, and is often expensive. However, with economic growth languishing in much of the developed world, international businesses seeking growth cannot afford to ignore Africa.
Many South African law firms hold themselves out as having offices in multiple African counties, but in many cases, they still rely on local agents for work in most of Africa.
Over the years, we have developed relationships with local agents in most African countries – sometimes learning the hard way – and we are well able to assist clients in securing intellectual property rights in most African countries, including all of the major commercial centres.
In the Rest of the World
We have secured patents for our clients in most countries of the world.
In every jurisdiction, patent prosecution is a skilled task, requiring local expertise. It is not a routine administrative task that should be assigned to the lowest cost service provider; indeed, our experience is that clients who try to cut corners on foreign patent prosecution often end up spending more, and getting less.
We continually evaluate agents in foreign countries based on our experience and other information available to us, so as to ensure quality service at reasonable cost to our clients, while maintaining good relationships with our chosen agents.