How do I trademark my invention?

Trademarks protect BRANDS under which you trade (e.g. PUMA, KPMG), whereas Patents protect INVENTIONS.

You cannot protect your invention by registering a trademark.

Patent your invention

To protect your invention, your:

  • product must include a new and inventive feature
  • method must include a new and inventive step

Patent cost

Merely automating a method that has previously been performed manually does not make a method patentable; neither does simplifying a product by removing a feature; nor does applying an existing product / method to a new application.

For instance:

  • Using an UBER-type system for delivering documents instead of passengers is not in itself patentable – you need to add a new and inventive step in the method that renders the existing system UBER system particularly suited for this new application;
  • Using a construction dust mask as a COVID 19 mask is not in itself patentable – you need to add a new and inventive feature that renders the existing construction mask particularly suited for this new application.

And, when considering whether a step / feature is “new”, don’t just consider South Africa. It must be “new” worldwide. Whether it is been commercially used / successful / patented is not relevant. Any disclosure, whether in a description in a patent / book, commercial sale, or public presentation impacts “novelty”.

It is best to start the patent process by filing a South African provisional patent application – review your patent options here.

You may file your first patent application yourself for only $199 and get a Patent Pending Number – see our patent template. Or, you can engage a patent attorney to prepare and file the patent application at a cost of R9,950 plus vat.

Provisional patent applications give you
worldwide
rights for 12 months.

Trademark register your brand

Your invention will be protected by patents for up to 20 years. Thereafter, anyone can copy the product. However, if you associate your invention with a brand and trademark register the brand, your brand can be protected indefinitely. For example, Coca-Cola is not protected by any patents – there are many similar beverages on the market – but ownership of the brand gives Coke a monopoly in this market (likely, forever).

To trademark register your brand is relatively inexpensive. You can even register your trademark online. Now, that your brand has little reputation, the benefit of a trademark registration may not appear great. But, as sales grow and your reputation increases, your brand will quickly become more valuable than any patent.

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South Africa

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