Intellectual Property Management

The cutting edge research that takes place in the South African Astronomy Observatory means that, there are vast opportunities for intellectual property to be created during some of these activities. The intellectual property office exists to assist researchers at the South African Astronomical Observatory with the capacity needed to identify, protect and commercialise intellectual property created during their research activities in the Observatory. This is in line the NRF’s IP policy which promotes innovation and the protection of intellectual property and more broadly the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act. This is an Act of the South African Government which was enacted to promote the protection of IP that comes out of government funded research for the benefit of the people of South Africa.

IP Screening

The purpose of the screening process is to limit unintended public disclosure which would typically destroy the novelty of future inventions relating to the disclosure. The SAAO has put in place an IP screening process and Researchers are encouraged to ensure that all planned public disclosure is screened for potential IP protection before the disclosure is made. The screening form is {available here}. Materials that should be screened for potential IP before disclosure include, publication papers, press releases, blog entries etc. that is if they relate to research finding or the development of novel ways to achieve certain results. Whenever there are discussions or engagements with external parties, these should be managed in ways that do not destroy the novelty of potential IP. One way of achieving this is through a non­disclosure agreement (NDA). The IP/ Legal office will assist with coordinating the process of putting in place an NDA

To submit your abstract/publication for a quick IP screen please click here.

Free Online Patent Databases

These are some of the databases that can be used to search for prior art and assess the novelty of an invention. You can also use them to survey the type of technologies that are being patented in your area of expertise and use that information to assess the potential for some aspects of your research to broadly fall into the category of what constitutes patentable subject matter in your field.

For further assistance, email Tumi Ngqondo