Difficult ideas to patent – tv show, website, recipe

We do not patent the following ideas, because that would just be wrong:

  • Recipes – a new formula for a low calorie or energy drink or a new topping for a pizza typically cannot be patented or protected by copyright. There is nothing inventive here. Anyone can make Coca Cola (Virgin, Pick ‘n Pay no name brand, Pepsi and many others did). Try keep the formula secret (using confidentiality undertakings) and generate a reputation in the “brand” (protected by a trademark). It works for Coke (which happens to have a 100 year history and a massive marketing budget).
  • TV show – a script for a tv or reality show or an idea (with character names) for a cartoon series is protected only by copyright, albeit very ineffectively until the show is recorded. Ideas for tv shows cannot be patented. Only trademarks are effective here – try launch another “Survivor” type reality show under a different name. It won’t be easy. Viewers want the “real deal”.
  • Business methods – You cannot patent the idea of opening a fried chicken franchise next to the Killarney taxi rank or the concept of offering billboard marketing services to the burger industry. Even copyright won’t help you here. Consider relying on confidentiality undertakings, but these are only enforceable for as long as the idea remains secret (which won’t be long).
  • Websites – Don’t patent your new website. Even FaceBook and EBay are not patented. Websites are protected only by copyright, but this will not prevent others from “developing” (without copying) a site that is similar to / does the same thing as yours. Again, consider trademarks.
  • Software It is unlikely that your new software can be patented. Microsoft Word is not patented. We don’t even consider patents when developing our suite of software tools. Some patent attorneys are quick to conclude that a software program has a “technical effect”, but we are seldom convinced. If you have a software invention, contact a patent attorney in the US or Europe (not South Africa) that specialized in software patents. We do not dabble in this field.
  • Games – A new method of playing a game on a tennis court / playing indoor soccer cannot be patented. Your only option is to create a brand for the game and protect your rights in the brand through a trademark registration.

But, if you have developed a product with a “new feature”, we would be glad to patent that feature for only R5,950 plus vat. Get started by giving us a call.

Candidate patent attorney – articles, requirements and salary

Undergraduate science (preferably, engineering) degree only.

Recently completed undergraduate degree.

Additional studies while articled:
You will need to complete a law degree (4 years through UNISA), the patent exams (at least 2 years) and the attorneys’ board exams (1 year). All these run in parallel. It sounds like a mouthful, but is actually very manageable.

Period of articles:
3-4 years, but bank on 4.

Starting salary:
Approximately R10,000 per month – way less than your friends that join engineering firms, I know. But hopefully the medium to long term rewards are worth this sacrifice.

Work activities:
Initially, candidate patent attorneys assist in conducting patent searches and reviewing / amending patents. After a couple of years, you will start preparing draft patents.

After completing your articles, LLB, board and patent exams, you will be a qualified patent attorney. After qualifying, most patent attorneys remain with patent firms. Some accept positions as in-house patent counsel at Universities / large corporates, and others join funding agencies (e.g. TIA).

If you have a mechanical, metallurgical, civil or electrical engineering degree and are interested in becoming a patent attorney, please contact us.

Prototype your invention

IdeaNav now offers product prototyping services through its new prototyping website IdeaPrototype.

If you have an idea, come visit us to:

  • protect your idea;
  • create 3D drawings, photorealistic posters and movies of your invention; and
  • rapid prototype your product.

We will convert your idea into an alluring product designed to attract investors.

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How to protect an idea

Most ideas can be protected. New features can be protected by a patent; a new shape can be protected by a design; a written document / drawing / photograph can be protected against copying by copyright; and your brand can be protected by a trademark.

Basically, if you can point to a feature on your product that is new (without having to explain its “new” purpose), this feature may be patentable. Patents are your best form of protection. As, a patent will prevent others from adding that new feature to their product. If you think that your idea is patentable, call us. Any disclosures made to patent attorneys are protected by law and are regarded as confidential.

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Patents South Africa

If you have an idea, and wish to protect it, start by filing patents in South Africa.

A South African provisional patent application reserves your rights to file patents (practically) worldwide for a period of 12 months. And, it only costs R5,950 (exclusive of vat). Once you have filed the SA provisional patent, you can market, sell and tell people about your invention (without requiring them to sign confidentialities).

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Patent renewal

Try our online patent renewal system. It is safe and simple to use. And, you will save on patent renewal fees.

We have designed our renewal system to ensure that you cannot make mistakes:

  • you insert only your patent number. No further information is required;
  • the system displays an image of your patent to confirm that the number you inserted is correct;
  • the system extract the filing date, title, applicant detail etc. from patent databases;
  • the system performs automatic background tests to ensure that the filing date extracted is correct; and
  • the system will send you automatic renewal reminders by email.

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Patent annuities

Many people overpay for patent annuities. We manage over 1,500 patents worldwide for more than 100 users, offering the most affordable renewal fees to South African patentees.

Using our online patent renewal system will save you between 30% and 70% on patent annuities, depending on the country. And, as patents are added to our system, our pricing will continue to reduce.

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If I have an idea what do I do

Have an idea? Give us a call. Discussions with patent attorneys are protected by law. And, we can quickly give you suggestions on how best to protect your invention.

Basically, if you can point to a “feature” on your product, and that “feature” was not previously known anywhere in the world, the chances are it can be patented. This will prevent others from adding the same feature to their product … even if they combine it with 1,000 other features.

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Patents in South Africa

It is simple and affordable to file patents in South Africa.

To file a South African provisional patent typically takes two weeks and costs R5,950 plus vat. To start the process, just call us to confirm that your idea is patentable. We vet more than five inventions each day, and all disclosures to our patent attorneys are confidential.

Below are a few common “ideas” that fail our patent vetting process:

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Registering intellectual property

Before registering intellectual property for an idea, consider the various forms of intellectual property rights available – patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.

In broad stokes, patents protect the underlying concept of how an invention works, whereas designs protect the way an article looks. Consider cell phones: a patent protects the technology that enables users in remote locations to communicate with one another, while a design protects the shape of the handsets.

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