Does the patent system need to change?


Dale Verster and Marius Le Roux

In South Africa, there is a growing lobby for the Patents Act to be reviewed and possibly amended.

A draft national policy on IP was prepared and advertised by the government for comment in September 2013, with the Department of Trade and Industry calling for interested parties to submit comments.

At present, the granting of patents does not entail a substantive search and examination procedure but rather a so-called ‘depository’ system. Although the Patents Act requires the registrar to examine patent applications, the corresponding regulations prescribe that only a formal examination is required. Therefore, provided the application is completed correctly, all relevant forms have been completed and the required fees have been paid, the patent application will proceed to grant.

A possible conclusion is, therefore, that the South African system allows for ‘weak’ patents to be granted.