South Africa IP Development

  The Republic of South Africa joined WIPO in 1975 and is a member of a number of important IP-related treaties and agreements including Paris Convention, Patent Co-operation Treaty, Berne Convention, Budapest Treaty, and the TRIPs Agreement. The country is anticipated to conclude accession to the Hague Agreement and the Madrid Protocol in the near future.
  The former IP authorities in South Africa were Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO) and Office of Companies and Intellectual Property Enforcement (OCIPE), the two of which merged to form Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) on May 1, 2011. The foundation of the community and the revision of Company Act are to simplify the process of company registration and improve business administration, which is regarded as a milestone in the regulation of companies and business entities in South Africa.
  In recent years, the CIPC has been aggressively migrating to e-filing in various tasks, introducing the registration of trademarks, patents, designs and copyrights in film, with trademarks leading the way.
  On December 10, 2013, Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Act 2013 (Act No. 28 of 2013) was enacted to ensure effective protection mechanisms for indigenous knowledge (IK) in South Africa by establishing a National Council, a National Database and a National Trust and Fund for indigenous knowledge.
  Moreover, South Africa opens international cooperation in various fields including intellectual property, particularly with developing countries, such as joining in BRICS (namely, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). In May 2013, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa Heads of Intellectual Property Offices (BRICS HIPO) was established and all BRICS HIPOs signed the BRICS IP Offices Cooperation Roadmap, which is positive to the trade and investment cooperation among these countries. Moreover, in order to advocate the importance of IP protection and exploitation for economic development, the BRICS HIPOs participated in a joint panel discussion on November 17- 20, 2013 in Durban, South Africa, focusing on Creating and Leveraging IP in Developing Countries.
  Patents Act was first enacted in 1978 and the last amendment dated back to 2003. According to this act, a patent is granted for new invention involving inventive steps, capable of being used or applied in trade, industry or agriculture. However, discoveries, scientific theories, aesthetic creations, scheme, computer program, and presentation of information are not patentable. Once the patent is granted, the patentee would enjoy exclusive right of making, using, exercising, disposing or offering to dispose of and importing the invention in South Africa. The term of a patent is 20 years from the date of filling the complete application.
  A trademark is a brand name (a word or combination of words), a slogan (a short phrase or a sentence) or a logo (a distinctive picture or symbol), providing a distinctive identity in the marketplace and can apply to both products and services. The Trademarks Act in South Africa was enacted in 1993 and regulates trademark registration and as well as certification of trademarks and collective trademarks.
  A trademark can only be protected as such and defended under the Trademarks Act, 1993 (Act 194 of 1993) if it is registered. Otherwise, it may be defended in terms of the common law. The registration procedure results in a certificate which has legal status, allowing the owner of the registered trademark the exclusive right to use that mark. CIPC administers the Register of Trademarks, the record of all the trademarks that have been formally applied for and registered in South Africa.
  A registered trademark can be protected forever, provided it is renewed every 10 years upon payment of the prescribed renewal fee.
  Geographical indications may be registered in the form of collective trademarks or in the form of certification trademarks and thus be protected in South Africa.
  A copyright in South Africa is an exclusive right granted by law for a limited period to an author, designer, etc., for his/her original work. Unlike other forms of intellectual property, copyright does not need to be registered, except for cinematograph films.
  The lifespan of copyright depends on the type of work protected. The copyright of literacy works last for 50 years after death of the author. The copyright of computer programs last for 50 years after the first copy was made available to the public. For sound recordings, the copyright lasts for 50 years from the day that the work was first broadcast. For films, it is 50 years from the date that the film was shown.
Source: International IP Law Firms 2015
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