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Intellectual Property Law


Intellectual Property (IP) is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind, for which a set of exclusive rights is recognized, and the corresponding fields of law. Common types of intellectual property rights include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and, in certain jurisdictions, trade secrets.

e.g. A trade mark is a brand name, a slogan or a logo. It identifies the services or goods of one person and distinguishes them from the goods and services of another.

e.g. A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. The patent provides protection for the owner, which gives him/her the right to exclude others from making, using, exercising, or disposing of the invention, offering to dispose, or importing the invention.

In order to protect Intellectual Property in South Africa, you need to ensure that it is registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission of South Africa.

But what happens if somebody else is infringing on your patent or trade mark rights? Can you sue that person/company? What can you actually do in order to enforce your rights?

Most recent Articles posted

'Self-serving' butter case struck from roll

The battle for the word ‘butter’ came under the spotlight in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) when Clover took on Stork about the its latest ‘butter spread’.


Europe recognises SA Rooibos as 'protected'

In a first for African food, Rooibos, which is grown in the Cederberg mountains, has received the international protection designation from the European Commission.


Software developer sets sights on record payout

Software developer Neil Harvey is confident that after a 14-year battle over what he describes as ‘rampant copyright theft’, a judge could order Medscheme, owned by the JSE-listed AfroCentric, to pay a huge R370m, plus interest.


'Please call me' dispute ignores IP issues

A highly-contested and expensive case between Nkosana Makate and Vodacom has resulted in bad precedence in the field of company law on the issue of ostensible authority.


Nivea case highlights subjectivity of judgments

When Koni Multinational Brands launched Connie Men Active Shower Gel, a product in competition with Nivea Men’s established brand and which featured an arguably similar get-up – Nivea’s parent company Beiersdorf AG sued for ‘passing off’.


Prominent attorney sought to mislead judges

A senior partner at a leading SA law firm has scored a victory for Nivea in its battle with actress Connie Ferguson's beauty products company, but Gérard du Plessis faces a fight of his own after the SCA reported him to the Legal Practice Council for allegedly attempting to mislead five judges.


David and Goliath at the honey pot...

A tiny KZN honey enterprise is in a battle with corporate giant Food Lover’s Market (FLM) over it trademark, Nature’s Gold.


Berry industry in row over trading rights

The blueberry industry could be at risk because of an intellectual property dispute, according to the South African berry producers’ association, Berries ZA.


SCA scotches bid to pass off vodka as whisky

The SCA has interdicted a company from selling two products which purport to be whisky. It also restrained the company from representing the products as being whisky or whisky-flavoured when they were not, and as having an alcohol content of 43% or higher when they did not.


What is and what's not patentable

In response to the scramble to find a cure and be the first to own patent rights to a vaccine against the coronavirus, the question arises whether current and future research in the fight against Covid-19 is even patentable.


Liberty wins Vitality battle with Discovery

The High Court has dismissed a case from insurer Discovery against rival Liberty, who it had argued was infringing on its trademarks and competing unlawfully, Liberty said yesterday.


Fashionista wins restraint of trade battle

A Durban fashionista caught in an employment battle between two trendy retail giants walked out of court victorious last week, according to a Sunday Tribune report.


Part mark filing can help enforcement

Copycat products imported into SA often replicate well-known brands. In such cases, questions arise over whether the owner of the legitimate well-known brand can sue based on SA's counterfeit laws, trademark infringement, a type of unlawful competition known as passing off, or copyright infringement.


Street vendor stands firm against Unilever

Unilever SA has written to an Alexandra township street vendor who posted a video on social media accusing it of stealing his intellectual property, says a Daily Dispatch Weekend Edition report.


Copyright Bill may cost SA R12bn in US exports

About R12bn of SA’s exports could lose preferential access to US markets if a lobby group convinces the Donald Trump administration to withdraw SA’s trade status should the contentious Copyright Amendment Bill be passed into law in its current form, notes a Business Day report.


Pick n Pay in trademark battle over braai products

A Durban businessman is taking on Pick n Pay in the KZN High Court for using his trademark on their braai products. In court papers, Flamco CC owner Rajan Naicker said he had hoped to resolve the matter amicably but the retailer continued to use his trademark, Braaitime, notes a Sunday Times report.


Copyright Bill is 'expropriation without compensation'

The Coalition for Effective Copyright has petitioned President Cyril Ramaphosa not to sign the Copyright Amendment Bill into law. At a media briefing at Constitutional Hill yesterday, the coalition's spokesperson Collen Dlamini said if the Bill was signed into law it would amount to expropriation of local content without compensation, says a TimesLIVE report.


Brenda Fassie movie rights belong to son

A legal tussle over the film rights of Afropop star Brenda Fassie has been laid to rest after the company which claimed it had the exclusive rights to make a film of her life lost its court battle.


Ramaphosa urged not to sign Copyright Bill

Film organisations have slammed Parliament for passing the Copyright Amendment Bill. As reported in Legalbrief Today, the National Council of Provinces passed the Bill last week and sent it to President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign into law. A Weekend Argus report notes the Coalition for Effective Copyright in SA objected to the Bill, saying it contradicts the World Intellectual Property Organisation Copyright Treaty which the house adopted.


SA musician claims hit single plagiarised

SA musician Daniel Baron is taking on international dance music superstar David Guetta with claims he plagiarised Baron’s 2016 hit single, Children of The Sun, says a Sunday Times report. Baron, who is signed to Universal Music, claims Guetta’s track, Light Headed, featuring Australian singer Sia and released in September 2018, has a ‘near-identical’ melody to Children of The Sun.





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