What can I patent?

You can patent:

  • a “new feature” you are adding to a product or board game;
  • a “new step” in a business method or software App; and
  • a “new formulation” or “new cooking method” for a food product,

if they are not “obvious”.

Can I get a Patent Pending Number if I have questions about inventiveness / obviousness?

“Obviousness” is a subjective concept, and need not be a bar to getting a Patent Pending Number. If, in 12 months time, you decide to take the next step and file a corresponding Compete Patent outside South Africa, be prepared to argue “inventiveness” with the examiner. Until then, you may assume inventiveness.

Merely marking your product “Patent Pending” will deter competitors and attract customer – just ask Audi, which marketed their A6 on the flimsy claim that it was covered by more patents than Nasa’s space shuttle.



Audi car patent


What you can’t patent

The following a are generally not patentable:

  • Simplifying a product by removing a feature.
  • Changing the material.
  • Merely combining features.
  • Changing the power source.
  • Highlighting a new benefit for an existing product.
  • Using an existing product in a new way.
  • Merely changing the shape of a product – rather file design registrations.

How to patent

Start with an international online patent search to confirm that your “new feature / step / formulation” is in fact “new”. The biggest mistake inventors make is spending a lot of money drafting and filing a provisional patent through a Patent Attorney without first conducting a search.

Next, decide what kind of patent to file – a provisional patent, a complete patent, or a PCT patent.

Is patenting expensive?

Patents can be expensive, but there are surprisingly affordable options. For example, you can get a Patent Pending Number online through either GlobalIPCo for only $199 / Iptica for only $99. Use our Patent Template and Guide to prepare the document without paying a Patent Attorney. The Patent Pending Number will last you for 12 months.

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Get started with the patent process

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South Africa

T +27 (0)11 483 1439
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