Time for sharp competitive intelligence

The South African ICT industry is misreading the Patents Act, and this is costing it money, says Spoor & Fisher patent attorney Chris de Villiers. He says it is commonly wrongly asserted that software can generally not be patented and must be protected under the Copyright Act. “This view is widely held, but is based on a misunderstanding of the South African Patents Act, which has very similar wording to the European and UK legislation on this point.” He adds that, in the absence of any South African case law, “we have to be guided by the experience of these countries, where software inventions having ‘technical character’ or giving rise to a ‘technical effect’ are in fact patentable”. De Villiers says South African software innovators who want to protect their technology would be foolish not to apply for patents in the current scenario.

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