As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, companies are scrambling to find a cure and be the first to own patent rights to a vaccine against the virus. In South Africa, the Patents Act does not define an invention but rather lists a number of exclusions as to what could constitute a patentable invention. In particular, the act specifies that a scientific discovery is not an invention, which raises the question of whether the genetic sequence of COVID-19 could be patented in South Africa.
The Copyright Act defines a 'computer program' as a set of instructions fixed or stored in any manner and which, when used directly in a computer, directs its operation to bring about a result. From this definition, it is apparent that source code forms the subject matter of copyright protection as a computer program. However, the owner of the copyright in a computer program cannot object if a third party mimics the functionality of the computer program, provided that the third party had no access to its source code.
Trademark applications are examined by the Office of the Registrar of Trademarks approximately eight to 10 months after their date of application. This article discusses several possible conditions that examiners often prescribe for accepting trademark applications and which applicants must therefore consider before filing.
A trademark will not be registered, or can be removed from the register, if it is inherently deceptive or likely to deceive or cause confusion, contrary to law, against good morals or likely to offend anyone. This article provides insight into the contrary to law provision, particularly insofar as it relates to the controversial discussion regarding the partial legalisation of cannabis in South Africa and its impact on trademark law.
Copycat products imported into South Africa often replicate well-known brands. In such cases, an analysis must be undertaken to determine whether the owner of the legitimate well-known brand can sue based on various grounds. In this respect, although word marks are often seen as the most important because they are a brand's primary name, from an enforceability perspective, filing a part mark can help to avoid ambiguity.