The trademark office in South Africa is officially known as the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) which is responsible for the registration of trade marks, granting of patents and designs, and compliance with relevant legislations. Before you apply for a trade mark at the trade mark office in South Africa, a clearance search for prior trademarks is recommended in order to ascertain whether similar or identical trade marks already exist on the Register.

South Africa Trademark Facts

  • First to Use

First-to-use is generally superior to first-to-file. However, it is easier for owners to enforce registered trade marks than their common law equivalent, as trade mark registration is prima facie proof of national ownership and validity.

  • Paris Convention

South Africa is a member of the Paris Convention. Each contracting state must grant the same protection to other contracting states, and provides for the right of priority in the case of patents, trade marks and designs.

  • Nice Classification

South Africa recognises the Nice Classification. An international classification for goods and services

  • Madrid Protocol

South Africa is not a member of the Madrid System.

  • Types of Marks
    • Goods and services
    • Certification marks
    • Collective marks

Trademarks Registration in South Africa

Once the clearance search has been finalised, we may proceed to file a trade mark application at the trade mark office in South Africa. We will be required to provide a signed Power of Attorney authorising our firm to act on clients' behalf, the full name, physical address and nationality of the applicant, the representation of the trade mark, the list of goods and/or services, and a certified English copy of the priority document (if applicable). Read more: How to register a Trademark in South Africa.

After filing a trade mark application at the trademark office in South Africa, it is examined for distinctiveness and possible conflicts of any existing trade marks on the register. It can take up to 12 months from the date of filing a trade mark application until the first examination is conducted. Thereafter, an official action is issued, indicating whether and subject to what conditions, it would be prepared to accept the trade mark for publication.

Once the conditions for acceptance have been complied with, the registrar issues a notice of acceptance of publication. Thereafter, the trade mark is advertised for the compulsory three-month opposition period in the South African Patent and Trade Mark Journal. If no opposition to the registration of a trade mark is received, it proceeds to registration. The registration process may take up to 18 to 24 months.

A registered trade mark in South Africa is valid for 10 years and may be renewed in perpetuity for further periods of 10 years.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.