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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

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.


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.


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.


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.


Chicken chain sues vegan eatery over use of 'licken'

Chicken Licken claims that the name of a vegan restaurant in Durban North, Oh my Soul Café, and its use of the word ‘licken’ in its menu are confusing to customers, and so it is taking the restaurant to court over alleged trademark infringements. Chicken Licken says it needs urgent adjudication, and the dispute is due to be aired before KZN High Court (Durban) Judge Dhaya Pillay this week.


Shoe-makers in battle over their soles

Bata Brands SA has taken on a rival shoe-maker over the soles of its shoes, claiming their aim is to dupe customers into believing they are buying Bata Toughees. A Weekend Witness report says the matter was argued before Judge Trevor Gorven in the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg).


Woolworths in another alleged copying row

Another small business has complained of Woolworths copying its product – this time it's a nutrition bar. But the retailer has denied the claims, saying it started developing its product years before ever meeting the entrepreneur, Fin24 reports. Last week Woolworths was in the spotlight after founder and designer of Ubuntu Baba baby carriers Shannon McLaughlin blogged about how the retailer copied her product.


Woolworths apologises, withdraws baby carrier

Woolworths is to remove a baby carrier product from its stores, following a meeting with a business owner who claimed the retailer had copied her idea, according to a Fin24 report. This comes after founder and designer of Ubuntu Baba baby carriers Shannon McLaughlin outlined in a blog post that the retailer copied her product idea.


Retailer called out over copycat baby carrier

The design of a baby carrier that is not only suitable for the baby but comfortable for the mother as well is at the centre of a dispute between its designer, Shannon McLaughlin, and Woolworths after she discovered the exact design being sold at the retail giant's online shop in December 2018. McLaughlin, who is accusing the retailer of stealing her design and concept, described Woolworths’ conduct as ‘completely unethical’, says a TimesLIVE report.


Judge questions Pepkor's Tekkie Town arguments

Pepkor, the owner of Tekkie Town, is having difficulty persuading Judge Siraj Desai, of the Western Cape High Court, that the ‘fools gold’ allegedly paid to the founders of Tekkie Town had nothing to do with the current trademark case against Mr Tekkie.


Fifa stripped of SA assets in 'world first' case

World football federation Fifa has been stripped of all its SA trademarks and is now forced to hand over documents that could expose corruption and millions in kickbacks at the highest levels of government and the country’s local soccer authority. In what City Press describes as a world first, Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) Judge Van der Westhuizen issued an attachment order in favour of former football administrator Leslie Sedibe.


Please Call Me battle heading back to ConCourt

Telecommunications giant Vodacom is still prepared to negotiate with Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate on whether to compensate him a share of revenue that the service has generated. This, notes a Moneyweb report, emerged from Vodacom’s affidavit filed this week in response to Makate’s latest application at the Constitutional Court, which seeks clarity on last year's groundbreaking order that compelled the company to enter into in good faith compensation negotiations with him.


SCA's precedent-setting ruling on generic term

Ackermans was recently successful in what Werksmans Attorneys’ Janine Hollesen calls a precedent-setting trademark dispute with Truworths (Pepkor Retail (Pty) Ltd v Truworths Ltd) which was heard by the SCA. In an analysis in The Star, Hollesen notes that the trademark at the centre of the dispute was ‘The Look’.


SA company ordered to stop using fake logo

SA company Trio End Street has been interdicted from using a fake BMW logo on its car rims and wheels, and thus infringing on the trade mark of the German company, says a report in The Star. The mother company of BMW SA – BMW AG – holds the trade mark to the logo. However, it emerged that Trio End Street, trading as Golden West Tyres & Wheels, was using the logo on its rims.


Media24 copyright appeal fails in Supreme Court of Appeal

Media24 Books appeal to the SCA after the Western Cape High Court threw out its copyright action against Oxford University Press‚ which it claimed had copied its English-Afrikaans children’s dictionary, was dismissed with costs by Judge Malcolm Wallis‚ sitting with four other judges. A TimesLIVE report says the case – thought to be only the second dictionary copyright row to have come to court anywhere in the world – had its roots in 2011‚ when Media24 started work on a new Aanleerderswoordeboek.


SCA dismisses Yuppiechef trademark appeal

The Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by Yuppiechef Holdings that another online company‚ Yuppie Gadgets‚ infringed Yuppiechef’s trademark, says a BDlive report. The trouble started when Urban Gadgets decided in 2011 to change its name to Yuppie Gadgets‚ prompting Yuppiechef to launch its application.


SABC wins copyright battle over documentary

The Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) has issued a final interdict against veteran documentary producer Sylvia Vollenhoven in terms of which she may not distribute or broadcast the documentary Project Spear, commissioned by the public broadcaster, notes a Pretoria News report. The SABC was due to broadcast the documentary in September 2012, but gave various reasons for not doing so, including that it would open the broadcaster to defamation claims as there were allegations that could not be substantiated.





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