Cape Town Recognised Globally for Innovation


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6 September 2014

Cape Town will proudly host the 7th South African Innovation Summit on 16-18 September 2014 at its Green Point Stadium. The theme of the Summit is “local innovation with a global mindset” and one of the sessions featured will focus on local innovators and thought leaders on the brink of major international expansion.

Having advised each project throughout the development and deployment of its intellectual property, I will give insight into the processes, challenges and successes of local companies including:

An award winning print-on-demand concept that allows publishers to earn licence fees directly from legal print-outs of their books. Whilst it serves a range of users, the concept is tailored to rural education where access to educational resources is limited;

A water treatment company in the process of expanding its patented, locally developed and produced, organic treatments for the remediation of polluted and contaminated waters. Their non-chemical water purification methods are showing unprecedented results in a multitude of applications;

A mobile payment and prepaid electronic voucher distribution system that facilitates cash based payments in informal markets;

A designer and licensor of advanced payment and voucher management systems to some of the world’s busiest physical and online retailers and service providers, rumoured to process $6 billion worth of payments for clients every day;

A pioneer in transaction authentication that offers a user friendly platform that eliminates the need for hardware tokens and one-time passwords. Its platform is used by major banks in South Africa and is the first and only African company to be accredited by all three major payment networks (American Express, MasterCard, Visa); and

A university supported start up that is developing world first, simplified, low-cost, life-saving cardiac-related medical devices.

Innovation in South Africa has recovered

Looking at local businesses filing patents and trade marks, the level of innovation in our country has shown a strong recovery in the last two years, it has experienced a rise and fall in local patents and trade marks – a rise recently and fall previously.

2012 saw a drop in local brands requiring new trade marks in South Africa as a whole, which has since stabilised, increasing by 2%. Trade mark filings that we’ve seen in the Western Cape (working with brands predominantly in this location), also dropped slightly in 2012 and since grew strongly by 33%.

Local inventions that have been patented in South Africa have increased by up to 7% in 2012 and 2013, after dips of up to -10% in 2009 to 2011. From predominantly inventors in the Western Cape, we saw new patents increase by 16% in 2013, also increase in 2012 and previous years.

Currently innovation in South Africa, in the form of inventions being patented, is mostly driven by research conducted at our universities.

More intellectual property trends that we have seen locally this year include a rise in anti-counterfeiting matters – Cape Town is, after all, one of the world’s busy trade routes and is South Africa’s second biggest handler of containers after Durban.

Copyright and related infringement action has increased for online news publishers, eCommerce companies, online shopping brands and mobile apps.

The Innovation Summit and Creative Week Cape Town form part of World Design Capital Cape Town 2014, a significant distinction for our Mother City, putting South Africa on the global innovation map.  It was awarded to Cape Town this year for recognising design for social, cultural and economic development and involves an exciting programme of diverse and transformational design activity in the city.

By Christine Strutt, Partner and Trade Mark Attorney, Von Seidels

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