The Largest Patent Prosecution Firms in South Africa

Published On: 2024-05-27|Tags: , |4.1 min read|

Appearing in the top 20 and holding the highest position among African countries in the Global WIPO ranking, South Africa has an active patent prosecution landscape. The period from 2018 to 2022 reflects this, with a select group, led by the largest patent prosecution firms in South Africa, handling a substantial volume of patent filings. According to IP Pilot data, a total of 46,264 patent filings were managed by 46 distinguished firms.

Download the Excel file with the top patent firms from South Africa.

Rank: Largest 20 Patent Prosecution Firms in South Africa

According to IP Pilot, a few firms have risen to prominence, shaping the industry with their expertise. ADAMS & ADAMS (11,748), SPOOR & FISHER (10,533), and SIBANDA & ZANTWIJK (6,541) stand out, having processed an impressive 62% of all filings from 2018 to 2022 in South Africa.

Notably, ADAMS & ADAMS achieved an 8% increase in filings, SPOOR & FISHER a 13% rise, and SIBANDA & ZANTWIJK an astounding 1871% growth within the five-year period.

Other firms making their mark include VON SEIDELS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ATTORNEYS and HAHN & HAHN INC., with filings totaling 3,860 and 2,812, respectively. LAM ATTORNEYS INC. also demonstrated outstanding growth (4550%), reflecting the evolving IP landscape in South African, which continues to grow and adapt to the changing times.

Overall Patent Landscape in South Africa

Approximately 72% of filings originated from overseas, highlighting the reliance of South African firms on international clients and the importance of foreign partnerships.

The data highlights the importance of overseas inventors for the top patent prosecution firms in South Africa. Their portfolios predominantly consist of inventions from abroad, indicating their robust expertise in navigating complex international patent laws and regulations.

The top applicants filing in South Africa reflect a diverse international presence:

  3. UNILEVER PLC (United Kingdom)
  6. ARCELORMITTAL (Luxembourg)
  8. BASF SE (Germany)
  9. CATERPILLAR INC (United States)
  10. COLGATE PALMOLIVE CO (United States)

The top 10 patent prosecution firms in South Africa averaged 67% in PCT cases, indicating their proficiency in navigating the PCT system, which is a strategic tool for applicants seeking patent protection internationally.

South Africa: Number of Patent Applications and Shares of Foreign Filings per Firm


Firms like ADAMS & ADAMS, SPOOR & FISHER, VON SEIDELS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ATTORNEYS, HAHN & HAHN, KISCH IP, and GERNTHOLTZ INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY are leading the charge in managing PCT and foreign filings, with all firms showing an impressive over 75% share of foreign filings and a high percentage of their portfolios dedicated to PCT/PCT-based filings.

In contrast, SIBANDA & ZANTWIJK, LAM ATTORNEYS INC., and RADEMEYER ATTORNEYS stand out with a notably lower percentage of PCT/PCT-based filings at 16%, 25%, and 58% respectively, suggesting a strategic focus on a more varied mix of patent work, possibly including a higher proportion of direct national filings or other specialized services catering to domestic clients.

Case Exchange Trends

Patent prosecution firms in South Africa actively participate in patent case exchanges with colleagues from various nations. Between 2018 and 2022, South African firms received a significant number of patent cases. The data reveals that the United States plays a crucial role both as a sender and receiver of patent cases. European countries (Germany, United Kingdom, France) also actively participate in patent exchanges with South Africa, while Asian countries (China, Japan, India) feature prominently.

In this 5-year period, South African firms sent 422 cases to the United States, 275 to Great Britain, and 250 to Australia. This outbound flow of cases is less than the inbound, suggesting that South African firms have a higher demand for representing foreign interests within South Africa than for exporting local innovations.

On the other hand, the United States leads the way by sending 7,941 cases to South Africa. China follows with 3,774 cases, and Germany with 2,353. Additionally, other European countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, and Switzerland contribute to this influx of cases. This highlights South Africa’s role as a recipient of international patent filings.

Law Firms Receiving Most Cases from South Africa: Country Breakdown 2018-2022
Law Firms Sending Most Cases to South Africa: Country Breakdown 2018-2022

To Sum Up

From 2018 to 2022, the South African patent prosecution sector has undergone a significant transformation. Despite a select number of firms dominating patent filing prosecutions, the sector has witnessed substantial growth among some emerging entities. Notably, Sibanda & Zantwijk and Lam Attorneys Inc. have shown a skyrocketing increase in the number of filings.

The data also indicates a robust case exchange network, particularly with the United States, China, Australia and European countries, underscoring South Africa’s pivotal role in the international patent ecosystem. There is a strong presence of foreign innovators, with the top ten applicants representing a diverse array of countries.

This period marks a significant evolution in South Africa’s IP landscape, reflecting its adaptability and growth in a rapidly changing global environment.

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