South African patents will soon be available on the Web site of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and will form part of the PatentScope search facility on the WIPO site.

According to Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro), the South African patent collection for the period 1988 to 2008 is now being uploaded on a test environment at WIPO and it is expected to be operational by September.
"This means South African patents will no longer be confined to South African borders," says Keith Sendwe, CEO of Cipro. "We are just as proud of any registered patents as our entrepreneurs and are therefore delighted that scanned images of these patents will soon be available worldwide. Cipro is convinced that anybody who logs on to the WIPO database will be impressed by the creative and viable patents that have been registered with Cipro over the last few years."
Sendwe explains that WIPO, a specialised United Nations agency, is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property system. WIPO was established by the WIPO Convention in 1967 with a mandate from its member states to promote the protection of intellectual property worldwide, through the cooperation among states, as well as in collaboration with other international organisations.
As part of a cooperation agreement with WIPO, Cipro has undertaken to supply scanned images of South African patents to WIPO. In return WIPO will perform an Optical Character Recognition (OCR), index the bibliographic information and make the South African patent collection available on their electronic patent search facility PatentScope.
As Cipro is mandated to register and maintain the respective documentation of companies and intellectual property under the applicable legislation, it is the custodian of the South African patent documentation.
In order to improve accessibility to its services, Cipro has embarked on a project to create a South African Electronic Patent Database, with three phases defined by time periods. Phase one included the digitalising of all granted patents in force from 1988 to 2008. During phase two the patents for the period 1961 to 1987 will be digitalised, after which all the remaining patents before 1961 will be scanned as part of phase three.
"We are currently in the process of scanning all South African granted patents according to WIPO standards and as indicated in the phases. These scanned images will be published on the Cipro and WIPO websites in terms of the agreement between CIPRO, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)," adds Sendwe.
For entrepreneurs this means South African patents will be available worldwide with the click of a button. "The WIPO system does not only reward creativity, but also stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest. Viewing these patents may just trigger a business idea. And your patent may be next to be posted on these Web sites," Sendwe says.