What’s the patenting process? An expert answers…

By Drum Digital
05 September 2016

I want to patent my idea to protect it from being stolen or copied in SA.

How do I go about patenting an idea, and how much does it cost?

Joshua answers

There is a fierce competition for ideas in the market today, and so it’s very important for entrepreneurs to build a formidable wall of protection around their thoughts. One of the functions of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) is to register patents and ensure that they are for the sole preserve of the person/entity who registered them.

The CIPC prescribes the following steps:

Conduct a search on existing patents. New ideas are rare, but this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to have a new idea. Make sure that you search for similar ideas to determine if they are registered with the office of the Patents Registrar. If you can, you may solicit the help of a professional patent searcher, at a cost.

Apply to register. After satisfying yourself that there isn’t a patent in the market similar to your idea, you may apply for the registration of your patent with the CIPC. The first application is called a provisional application, because even though you might have searched for any existing patents, your search might not have uncovered some of the registered patents. A complete or final application is lodged when the Registrar of Patents is satisfied that there is no similar patented idea to yours.

Registration of patent. Once an application has been lodged for the registration of a patent, the CIPC will take about six to eight months to perform examination and due process on your application.

Patenting costs. According to the CIPC, it will cost you R650 to complete the registration of a patent. There’s a R60 fee for provisional application and a R590 fee for a final application. You may incur additional fees beyond those charged by the CIPC if, for instance, you hire a professional patent searcher. First assess how your idea will help generate income before you register it. A registration of a patent on its own will not amount to anything if there is no compelling business case for its registration. Good luck!

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