Africa is seen by many as the next global investment hotspot, where the abundance of raw materials, booming economies and vast capabilities for development are attracting entrepreneurs and investors from all over the world. There is no doubting South Africa is at the epicentre of this African boom; often referred to as the “Gateway to Africa”, it has shown its more than capable hands at hosting major global events such as the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. South Africa recently also joined ranks with arguably the most promising world economies – the BRICS group that now comprises Brazil, Russia India China and South Africa, further highlighting worldwide recognition for being among the most promising investment locations in the world.
IP at the forefront
With this tremendous growing interest in South Africa, IP protection is at the forefront of agendas for all entrepreneurs. Similarly, trademark protection is becoming increasingly important for brand owners to distinguish themselves from their competitors. In 2012, trademark filings in South Africa reached their highest level of the past 10 years. On an international level, South Africa is a signatory of various international agreements, among others the WTO, GATT, the Paris Union and the TRIPS agreement.
Historically, it can be said that South African trademark law has been ahead of its time. For example, the now defunct 1963 act was one of the first pieces of trademark legislation anywhere in the world that allowed for the registration of container marks.
It is interesting to note that the current law allows for the registration of service marks, certification marks and collective marks. There are, however, various aspects that a proprietor may wish to take note of prior to an application for registration of a trademark in South Africa.
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Carl Van Rooyen is a partner at Spoor & Fisher in Pretoria, South Africa. He can be contacted on + 27 12 676 1288 or by email at email@example.com
Jacky He is a candidate attorney at Spoor & Fisher in Pretoria, South Africa. He can be contacted on +27 12 676 1028 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org