Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual property (IP) law is designed to protect your creative output; whether it is a piece of writing, a work of art, a computer program or your company logo.

In South Africa, there are four main types of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), protected by statute – Copyright, Trade Marks, Patents and Designs.

  • Copyright is an unregistered right (except for films, which can be registered under separate legislation). This means it need not be registered to be legally valid. In South Africa, copyright law can be applied to all original books, poems, music pieces, artworks, films, sound recordings, broadcasts, published editions, computer programs and other types of works specifically included in the Copyright Act. And, by law, these works are automatically copyrighted if they are original and exist in material form. Also, the work needs to be created by a ‘qualified person’.
  • Patents, on the other hand, require registration at the Patent Office and protect inventions, whether products or processes, which are novel, involve an inventive step and are industrially applicable.
  • Trade Marks give the registered owner the exclusive rights to use and exploit a sign – like a logo, a slogan, a brand name and, in cases like Coca-Cola, even the shape of a glass bottle. In order to be registerable, a trade mark must be capable of distinguishing the goods or services of the owner of the trade mark from the goods or services of competitors in the marketplace.
  • Designs are applied specifically to articles that have visual appeal, like the colourful and geometric patterns on African or North American Indian blankets, a designer handbag, the beautiful curves and lines of the latest Ferrari or the rounded edges of an iPhone. Designs are divided into two categories: functional and aesthetic. A registrable aesthetic design must be both new and original; while registrable functional designs must be novel and not commonplace in the art in question.

IPRs protected by common law include common law trade marks, confidential information, trade secrets, know-how.

Whether you’re a seasoned creator of IP or a newcomer to the IP legal world (entrepreneur or start-up), RM Tucker Attorneys’ IP knowledge, expertise and experience enables us to make your IP-related legal matters run smoothly, easy to understand and obtain your desired objectives and results.

We are able to assist you with sound and current legal advice, the facilitation of all IP registrations, IP infringement and associated enforcement, IP exploitation, agreements and more.

In short, you create and we safeguard.