Frequently Asked Questions about patents:

What does it mean to have a patent?
A patent owner has the right to decide who may use the invention for the period in which the invention is protected. A patented invention may not be used, distributed, imported, or sold by others without the owner’s consent.

How much does it cost to get a patent?
A patent application drafted by a qualified patent attorney could cost around:
– United Kingdom (£3000 – £6000)
– South Africa (R18 000 – R40 000)
– United States ($2500 – $3000)
– Australia (AUS$5000 – AUS$8000)

How do I get a patent?
A Patent application should be filed with the relevant Patent Office. The application should include details of the invention, details of the inventors and applicants, power of attorney, deed of assignment and priority documents.

Can a patent be renewed after 20 years?
No, it cannot be renewed. Once a patent expires, the invention is in the public domain.

How does one get international patent protection?
There is no such thing as a “worldwide” patent. You have to file a patent application in each country in which you wish to protect your invention.

Can I patent something I discovered?
Each country has it’s own exclusions to patent rights but most countries consider the following not to be inventive and therefore cannot be patented: discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods.

Should I do a Patent Search?
It is very important for applicants to search for similar inventions before applying for a Patent. A Patent Search will indicate whether your idea or inventions has been patented before.

What is ARIPO?
A centralised IP system with a uniform legislation applicable to the member states in Africa. A Single application may cover any of the member states: Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sào Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

What is OAPI?
A centralised IP system with a uniform legislation applicable to the member states in Africa. A Single application automatically covers all member states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

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