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Basics Of Patents, Trademarks And Copyrights

Some individuals confuse patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Although there may be some parallels among these kinds of intellectual property protection, they are not the same and serve different purposes.


What Is a Patent?

A patent awards a creator exclusive intellectual property rights to an invention. ‘Patent’ refers specifically to the certificate given to the patentee, or the inventor applying for protection. The patent inhibits others from, amongst other things, manufacturing the product, using the technology involved, or importing the creation.


According to the Patents Act No. 57 (1978), a patent may be approved for any invention which involves an innovative step and can be used in trade, industry or agriculture.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is merely a brand name, tagline or logo. Such trademarks are used to distinguish your product or service from others in the marketplace, making them distinctive and familiar. Trademarks can provide an air of credibility to a product or service, and are frequently used as Badges of Origin (to indicate where goods or services originate).

What is a copyright?

A copyright is a special right granted by the law to the creator of an original work, for example, an author, composer or artist. A copyright contains the right to copy, distribute, adjust or perform the work. Although there are some similarities between the laws of different countries, each nation has specific laws regarding copyright, and copyright is licensed on a regional basis.


In South Africa, copyright is ruled by the Copyright Act No. 98 of 1978. Works which can be copyrighted in South Africa include literary works; musical works; broadcasts; sound recordings; artworks and computer programs. Copyright is valid for a period of 50 years:


• After the passing of an author (plus protection during his/her lifetime), in the case of literary works

• After resources were first made available for sale, in the case of computer programs

• After the date of its first broadcast, in the case of a film works.

BB Attorneys

Safeguard your mastermind creations or discoveries and your exclusive rights thereto. Here at BBA we will assist in the registering of patents, designs, trademarks and domain names, Copyright your interest today.

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