How do I patent my idea?

You have come up with a great idea. But, how do you patent it? Don’t just rush to a patent attorney to draft and file a South African provisional patent. Protect your invention properly by following our 5 easy steps:

  • Step 1: Identify the new feature of your invention. To do this, broaden your focus beyond your specific application and ignore the materials used. For examples of what not to do, see our article on common mistakes made.
  • Step 2: Conduct a patent search to check whether your new feature is in fact new. Tip: use our patent search software.
  • Step 3: Prototype your invention to: (i) confirm that it works; and (ii) develop further improvements for inclusion in your provisional patent – this will make your patent a lot more robust.

South Africa prototype

  • Step 4: File a South African provisional patent. This will reserve your right to file corresponding patents in nearly every country in the world for a period of 12 months. Easily file South African provisional patents online through GlobalIPCo for $199 or through Iptica for $99. See our provisional patent drafting and filing guide. Note: a provisional patent does not give you enforceable rights. But, potential competitors are unlikely to invest in copying, marketing and distributing your invention knowing that you could exclude them from the market in 12-18 months.
  • Step 5: In 12 months time file a PCT patent to extend your right to file corresponding patents in 148 countries for a further 18 months. During the PCT phase, you will receive a search report from a recognised Patent Office, which report should carry much weight with potential investors / licensees.

Don’t feel rushed in to filing a patent. The more groundwork you do before filing a South African provisional patent, the better your patent will be. Steps 1-4 above should take only four weeks to complete.

Thereafter, we suggest that you:

  • Consider filing design applications to protect the shape of your product. GlobalIPCo files South African designs for only $299 and EU designs for Euro566; and
  • Carefully select the countries in which to file national phase patents.
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