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Webinar on the IAP in South Africa — November 29, 2023

December 28, 2023

In the framework of the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) WIPO, in cooperation with its partner institutions in the IAP participating countries, continues delivering targeted capacity building event, focusing on upskilling innovators in areas identified by the Program’s focal points. In 2021-2023, these activities reached around one thousand potential IAP beneficiaries and contributed to the continued expansion and increased impact of the Program.

South Africa has recently extended the IAP pro bono assistance to functional design applications. Hence, the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) initiated the webinar “Inventor Assistance Program in South Africa – Ways to Protect Your Invention”, held on November 29, 2023, with a focus on different pathways for protecting inventions. During the event, participants heard from the experts about the differences between patent and design protection, and opportunities offered by the IAP in South Africa.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Nomonde Maimela, Executive Manager: Intellectual Property, Innovation & Creativity, CIPC, thanked the Program’s partners and volunteers for the continued support in implementing the IAP in South Africa, and pointed up the aim of the webinar: since its inception in 2017, the Program has already helped the number of inventors and SMEs protect their inventions, at the same time, “one of the key learnings we have had in the last years is the nature of IP protection that innovators apply for – the need has proved to extend beyond just patent protection that has enabled us then to look into how best we can assist our innovators, and we are pleased to say that the IAP in South Africa has extended to add design protection”.

Delivering the welcome remarks on behalf of WIPO, Ms. Allison Mages, Head, IP Commercialization Section, IP for Innovators Department, IP and Innovation Ecosystems Sector, addressed the genius of local innovators: “Innovation transcends boundaries, and the potential of inventors here in South Africa is absolutely limitless. You are not merely problem solvers – you create solutions that have the power to transform lives locally and on the global scale. And the world needs you – more than ever – to address our most pressing challenges.” She also thanked South African volunteers “who dedicate their time and effort to scale up local innovation, and deliver tremendous impact for inventors, helping to turn their ideas into commercial assets”.

Valuable input was provided by the key speaker – Mr. Herman van Schalkwyk, Patent Attorney and IAP Volunteer, Partner at Spoor & Fisher, who shared his insights on the difference between patents and designs and how the inventors can use these two types of IP to protect their innovations. Participants were also grateful for his guidance during the Q&A session.

Video: Ways to Protect Your Invention: Patents & Designs (Herman van Schalkwyk).

Mr. Mehluli Ncube, Acting Senior Manager, Patents, Designs, Innovation Support and Protection Division, CIPC, explained how to become IAP in South Africa, highlighting the local eligibility criteria.

The program of the event also included the element of a quiz show, when the inventors where able to provide their answers to patent related questions, and the winner got a prize – a free consultation with the patent attorney, which was offered by Herman van Schalkwyk.

Want to learn more about the Inventor Assistance Program?

Visit the Program’s IAP Online Platform to learn more about how to apply as an inventor or become a volunteer of the program.