Change the world

Innovation Office

It is always wise to Google your idea first. You will find that someone else might have created a product similar to your idea already, a simple Google search will assist you in knowing for sure. If you are an undergraduate student you are not required to disclose your idea to us and you are encouraged to contact the Propella Business Incubator (Nelson Mandela University’s incubator) with your idea. If you are a post-graduate student you will need to contact the Innovation Office on 041 504 4309 or to discuss your idea with us.

A disclosure is the action of making new or secret information known in other words discussing your idea for a new innovation with the Innovation Office. Any information you provide us is treated as confidential. We will use the information to determine which protection can be sought for your innovation. To disclose, please schedule a meeting with the Innovation Office on 041 504 4309 or

A public disclosure is any publication that is 1) enabling to a person of ordinary skill in the art, 2) sufficiently accessible, 3) and disclosed under non-confidential (implied or explicit) circumstances. Journal articles, including online publications prior to the journal’s hardcopy release, posters, slide shows, thesis publications, websites, e-mails, verbal presentations, and even funded grant applications (the NIH posts the title and abstract online and makes the application available in response to a Freedom of Information request) may be considered a public disclosure.

In most foreign countries, such a disclosure prior to filing a patent application will forfeit the ability of the university to obtain patent rights and, therefore, foreign patent applications will not be filed.

A patent protects innovations with novel, useful and non-obvious applications.
Patent protection does not prevent publishing. It only requires that the publication needs to be timed so that it doesn't appear in a journal or on the web until it is protected. Publishing an invention allows for its exposure to the scientific community and the rest of the public at an early stage, but does not prevent others from using the information for commercial purposes. Patenting an invention, on the other hand, increases the chances of cutting-edge research discoveries being pursued and developed for the benefit of society.
Registered designs protects the shape or outward appearance of an article.
Trade secrets are processes, strategies and items that are 1) secret, 2) valuable because they are secret and 3) whose owner(s) take reasonable measures to protect the secrecy thereof.
Copyright protects original expressions of authorship, as recorded in tangible media of expression.
Trade marks are marks or insignia associated with products or services as established in commerce.
Please contact the Innovation Office on 041 504 4309 or to discuss your idea. We will assist you in identifying which protection should be sought and applying for the relevant protection.