Published Date: April 14, 2022

Adams & Adams participates in the Experiential Learning Programme for SSE patent examiners

The Department of Trade and Industry’s draft Intellectual Property (IP) Policy of South Africa seeks to provide a co-ordinated approach on IP matters by the national government through the implementation of structural and legislative reforms within South Africa’s IP landscape.

As part of this strategy, Substantive Search and Examination (SSE) of patent applications in South Africa will be introduced through the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

South Africa has little local capacity and competency in SSE; therefore, the CIPC has been assisted by International IP Offices and the World Intellectual Property Organisation to build capacity for the introduction or the establishment of an SSE system, including the training of patent examiners.

Working closely with the European Patent Office under a Memorandum of Understanding, the CIPC is now inviting patent law firms to participate in an Experiential Learning Progamme (ELP) for the second phase of training for these would-be patent examiners.

Participating in practical SSE training processes

Adams & Adams is participating in the ELP, which will give the trainee examiners the opportunity to gain practical experience in applying their acquired skills and competencies and interacting with local patent attorneys. In turn, our patent attorneys will be able to understand the workings of the envisaged South African SSE system and contribute to, and be well-prepared for, its implementation.

The trainee examiners will perform a non-binding substantive search and examination to determine whether the applications meet the patentability requirements. The examiners will issue a report to which the patent attorneys will review and respond. It is important to note that this process is non-binding and for training purposes only. It will not form part of the documents in the official application files, and that all participation by attorneys and their clients is voluntarily.

Ensuring timeous, high-quality examination of patent applications

Currently, South Africa has a depository system whereby patent applications are only examined for compliance with the formalities deemed necessary for the grant of the patent. The move to the SSE system seeks to ensure that the invention that the application relates to must not only meet the formal requirements, but meet inherent patentability requirements, in accordance with the South African Patents Act.

Through the quality training of examiners in international best practices and providing them with practical experience, the objective is to ensure that the South African Patent Office attains a high standard of examination and that filing applications is timeous, including preventing backlogs that can cause delay to the grant of patents.

When the SSE is implemented in South Africa, clients can be well assured that Adams & Adams has extensive knowledge, expertise and experience to assist with this new patent process.

James Davies
Partner | Patent Attorney