n South African Medical Journal - Patents and the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines : editorial

Volume 105, Issue 11
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



A patent represents a right or title conferred by a government authority granting an inventor a limited period of exclusive use of a patented invention, in return for full public disclosure of the invention. The premise is to stimulate innovation by ensuring that the inventor has a limited monopoly as a reward for advancing the industry. Innovative research in the pharmaceutical industry is extremely costly and time consuming. It is generally accepted that the resulting innovations are better rewarded in countries with advanced patent systems than in countries where patent protection is still lacking. Innovation leads to innovation when other inventors have the opportunity to advance the technology disclosed in patents further, and patent their own innovations in turn. However, sometimes the working of these patents may require cross-licensing between the patentees (Patents Act, section 55).

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