On 25 January 2023, the Registrar of the South African Patent Office published a practice notice, concerning the submissions required to prove an applicant’s rights to an invention and of the applicant’s right to claim priority.
This new practice notice supersedes a previous practice notice published in 2009, on these issues.
The publication of this 2023 practice notice confirms our interpretation of the 2009 practice notice, namely that:
- no inventor assignments need to be submitted if a 4.17(ii) is available.
- no assignment of priority rights need to be submitted if a 4.17(iii) is available.
- a Form PCT/IB/306 may be used to prove chain of title and no further proof will need to be submitted.
This new practice notice also stipulates that, for all patent applications where the applicant holds rights to the invention by virtue of employment/operation of law, it will not be necessary to submit a confirmatory assignment from the inventor(s) to the applicant.
A statement on the Form P3, stipulating that the Applicant’s rights are held by operation of law, or by virtue of the provisions of the relevant Act, will now be sufficient to satisfy the Registrar that the applicant is entitled to apply.
Nevertheless, we believe that it would be beneficial, in these circumstances, to have on file, documentary proof of the Applicant’s rights in the invention, which will serve as evidence of the applicant’s entitlement to apply for a patent in case there is any need to prove such entitlement at a later stage.