Intellectual Property Acts and Treaties

Copyright in South Africa is governed by the Copyright Act, 1978 (Act 98 of 1978), as amended.

The Berne Copyright Convention (1886) determines international rights between signatory countries, as does the Universal Copyright Convention (1952).

  • Registered Designs are governed in South Africa by the Designs Act, 1993 (Act 195 of 1993).
  • Patents are governed in South Africa by the Patents Act, 1978 (Act 57 of 1978) as amended.
  • Trademarks are governed in South Africa by the Trademarks Act, 1993 (Act 194 of 1993), as amended.

South Africa is signatory to the International Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (the Paris Convention) which relates to patents, designs and trademarks.

This Convention provides for recognition of rights of priority of designers, inventors and trademark owners who have filed for protection in eg their home country.

A single patent application can be made at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich to cover 31  European  countries and 5 extension states.

A single application to the Eurasian Patent Convention (EAPO) covers 9 countries of the former Soviet Union.

Regional patent grants covering African countries are available to South Africans, they are: ARIPO covering 13 (former British colonial) countries (excluding SA), Namibia and Mozambique; and OAPI covering 15 (former French colonial) countries.

The Madrid Protocol relates to the international registration of marks and South Africa intends to join within the coming year or so.

The Community Trademark Convention enables South African applicants to file a single trademark application with the Community Trademarks Office in Alicante, Spain, which will have effect throughout the whole European Union.

As local and international legislation is constantly being reviewed, always consult a patent attorney for the latest changes to legislation.