Traditional knowledge


Brian Wimpey

Prior to 1993, South Africa trademark law was based to a large degree on the statutory law of the United Kingdom.

When the latter changed its trademark law to comply with the European Community directive on the harmonisation of trademark laws in Europe, South Africa followed suit to some extent, and there are therefore similarities between the trademark laws in various countries in Europe and our current trademark law (Act 194 of 1993).

Perhaps one area where South African jurisprudence lags behind its European counterparts is the issue of confusion arising from similar marks registered in respect of pharmaceuticals. The traditional view that confusion must be shown to occur at the professional level (doctors and/or pharmacists) has yet to be seriously challenged in our High Courts despite a seeming tendency in other jurisdictions to recognise patients as users.

Traditional or indigenous knowledge

Pharmaceuticals, trademark law