The long-awaited draft intellectual property policy from the Department of Trade and Industry contains several key reforms, including the introduction of a substantive search-and-examination system for patent applications. The department considers this shift from the current depository system to be necessary if it is to grant more robust patents. A criticism of the depository system has been that it encourages frivolous patents and allows weak patents to be issued. Any move towards a substantive search-and-examination system is a fine idea in principle, but several hurdles will need to be overcome. A major constraint is the lack of professionals with the skills to handle a more intensive and extensive system. Louis Harms, retired judge and now professor of intellectual property law at the University of Pretoria, doubts that this could work in SA. "[SA] had an examination system in 1952, but had to abolish it in 1978 because we never had people to do [the job]. It’s highly specialise...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now