Protect my Invention

Inventions can be protected by patents, designs and trademarks. To decide which form of protection is relevant, ask:

Does my invention comprise:

  • A new use of an existing thing

    In itself, this is not patentable. Spend time coming up with a “new feature” that makes the existing thing more suited to its new use, then patent that new feature. Else, design register the new shape of your product.

  • A combination of known features

    Unless the combination yields a unexpected benefit in addition to the expected benefit of its component parts, the combination is unlikely to be protected by patents. Rather consider branding your product and protecting the brand using trademarks.

  • Adding a “new feature” to an existing product

    If not an obvious addition / substitute, the new feature can be patented. Also consider protecting the new shape by a design registration.

  • A new shape of an existing product

    File a design registration to protect your new shape.

  • A new business method

    Business methods are generally excluded from being patented. Rather, brand your new business, and protect your brand by filing a trademark.

  • A new App

    Focus on the new “method step(s)”; these may be protected by patents. Also, protect the App’s name and icon with trademarks. Definitely consider getting a Patent Pending Number for your App – all successful Apps do.

  • A new clothing line

    Protect your clothing line brand by filing trademarks. Also consider registering designs for your upcoming range of clothes.

  • A general concept

    Rely on confidentiality undertakings to keep your idea secret. Continue developing the concept into “a new patentable feature”; a “trademark registrable branded business method”, or a “design registrable new shape”.

  • Simplifying a product

    You cannot patent removing a feature from a product. If you are adding a new and inventive feature, you can patent that.

  • Using a new material to make a product

    Typically, merely changing the material from which a product is made cannot be protected.

  • Changing the power source of a product

    Substituting a power source is typically not patentable. If you are adding a new and inventive feature to make the new power source more suited to the product, you can patent that new feature. Else, consider protecting your new shape by design registrations.

  • A free energy machine

    Don’t waste money trying to protect the invention, rather spend your money making a prototype to prove to yourself that it does not work.

Your options

Patent protection

A patent protects: a new and inventive feature you are adding; or a new and inventive step in your method.

Your options are: file a Provisional Patent application and get a Patent Pending Number; file a Complete Patent application; or file an International / PCT Patent application. Read more about your patenting options.

Design protection

A design protect: the new shape.

Designs can easily be filed online.

Trademark protection

A trademark protects: a new brand / logo.

Trademarks can easily be filed online.

Copyright protection

Copyright is not really relevant to inventions – it merely prevents others from copy-pasting your software source code, copying your artwork or plagiarising your written document.

NDA protection

Confidentiality Undertakings: protect secret information from being on-disclosed or used. After the information becomes “public”, any confidentiality undertakings that may have been signed cannot be enforced.

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  • Patent Pending Number

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  • Online SA trademark filing

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Get started with the patent process

Get in touch

Contact us

Intangible Consulting (Pty) Ltd.
9 Kruger St
Oaklands
Johannesburg
South Africa

T +27 (0)11 483 1439
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