Intellectual Property (IP)

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IP essentially refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.  These may be protected by way of Patents, Trade Marks, Copyright, Registered Designs, etc.  For more information on  Patents, Trade Marks, Copyright, and Registered Designs please study the respective memos on the website.

NB: All information which you choose to disclose during the Start-Up Weekend shall not be treated as confidential.  In this regard, if applicable, it is up to each participant to ensure that any IP which they choose to disclose is adequately protected by way of patents, trade marks, copyright and/or registered designs, if applicable, bearing in mind that any non-confidential disclosure of an invention would be a bar for subsequent patenting thereof.

It is important to take note that mere ideas alone cannot be effectively protected, per se.  However, if the idea is at a level of development where it is arguably an invention then the same may be protected by way of a patent provided that it meets with the requirements for patentability of an invention as outlined in the memo on the subject.  One simple test to gauge whether your idea has crossed the threshold into an invention would be to determine if your idea is at a level of development where it could be described to any person with reasonable skill in the field of invention and they would be able to put the same into practice having regard only to your description.

It is also important to decide from the outset who will be the owners of the IP in a start-up as in certain cases, only the creator of the IP will be the owner thereof and it is only by way of a written assignments of can IP be transferred, e.g., to a company, etc.  If the development of an invention was funded, even in part, by public funds the provisions of the Intellectual Property from Publically Funded Research and Development Act No. 51 of 2008 may be applicable in determining ownership of the IP.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Vishen Pillay on (031) 536 8240.  Vishen is a patent attorney and Partner at Adams & Adams, the largest IP law firm in the Southern Hemisphere.
View memos on the various forms of IP 1. Trademarks 2. Copyright 3. Patents 4. Designs

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