n South African Medical Journal - Reforming South Africa's procedures for granting patents to improve medicine access : editorial

Volume 105, Issue 9
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Led by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), South Africa (SA) is undergoing a process of reviewing and amending national laws governing the protection of intellectual property (IP). This process has the potential to remedy significant shortcomings in the current legislation that allow for the granting of an excessive number of patents, and ever-greening of monopoly periods, at the expense of medicine access. As a member of the World Trade Organization, SA is required to uphold minimum standards of IP protection as defined by the international Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the 'TRIPS' agreement). The TRIPS agreement requires SA to grant 20 years of patent protection on products and processes that meet SA's patentability criteria. These criteria are the standards of novelty, innovativeness and industrial applicability required to receive a patent.

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