News update on South Africa's IP Policy
We commented on South Africa’s IP Policy, published in 2013, here.
On 9 February 2015, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) hosted a roundtable discussion on a plan for the implementation of substantive patent examination in South Africa.Mr McDonald Netshitenzhe, the DTI's chief director of policy, informed the meeting that South Africa’s IP Policy has been redrafted and will be submitted to the South African Cabinet this month (February). This redrafted document has not yet been made available to the public, and we are eagerly awaiting the publication thereof.
Mr Netshitenzhe also informed the meeting that the DTI has made a decision to implement a substantive patent examination system in South Africa. It is no longer a question of if, but rather as to how the system will be implemented. The implementation of the system will require amendment to the Patents Act and also the promulgation of regulations. This could be effected in 2017/18, all going well.
In a presentation, Mrs Elena Zdravkova, Senior Manager, Patents & Designs, Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, confirmed that the South African Patent Office is exploring the best way to implement a patent examination system, which will include the appointment and training of patent examiners. It is pleasing to see that the DTI will be interested in hearing the views of the IP profession so that the profession can assist with the implementation of a well-functioning system. Mrs Elena Zdravkova also mentioned that when the examiners assess the patentability of a new invention and in particular inventive step, guidance will be taken from the decisions of the South African courts.