Spoor & Fisher handles the filing, registration, prosecution and enforcement of trade marks, patents, designs and copyright. Clients also choose us to draft agreements for their commercial intellectual property (IP) transactions and to negotiate the best terms. Our intricate knowledge of over 80 different IP laws and practices across our core geographical regions - Africa and the Caribbean - means that we create and implement robust protection strategies. Where we do not have offices and where we cannot file directly, we work with carefully selected local associates.
Consistency in quality and record-keeping comes with having Spoor & Fisher as a single point of contact to manage entire IP portfolios. We work directly with corporates - global companies to small businesses - their main legal advisors as well as inventors. Clients from across the globe, including Africa-based businesses, have asked us to help protect and enforce their IP assets in their chosen markets.
Spoor & Fisher is responsible for the African and/or Caribbean intellectual property portfolios for some of the largest global brand owners across all main industry sectors.
We are pioneers for IP in Africa in particular - our lawyers have written the leading text books - including Dean & Dyer: Introduction to Intellectual Property Law - drafted laws and been involved in several of the most important cases in Africa.
1920 saw the creation of Spoor & Fisher in South Africa by founding members, Alfred Leonard Spoor and Len Fisher. With a growing business across Africa and limited local communications to support our business needs, the firm expanded in 1977 with the opening of an office in Jersey, Channel Islands. Jersey was chosen because of its excellent telecommunications and infrastructure. Jersey, being so close to Europe, gave us easy access to many clients, as well as straightforward travel links to Africa, the US and Asia. Although the historic issues that existed in South Africa have disappeared, our Jersey office is now well-established.
Validity and enforceability of international registrations in African countries through to long response times from local registries are examples of the concerns and challenges that international brand owners face when looking to protect their trade marks across such a vast continent with numerous laws and practices. Similar issues exist in the Caribbean. We work with companies to ensure that, as a minimum, their house trade marks are protected in African countries that are known as counterfeiting hotspots, those with strong economic markets where their goods and services are available, and countries where their brands are being manufactured. Our trade mark search, formalities and prosecution teams manage trade mark portfolios at all stages.
Similar issues exist for patentees who wish to protect their inventions across such vast regions with numerous laws and practices. Our team of registered patent attorneys and professionals handles not only the drafting and analysis of patent and utility model specifications but also the filing, prosecution and renewal of applications across Africa and the Caribbean. We also work with local South African-based patent owners to assist with their patent portfolios in other countries. Clients rely on our multi-disciplinary expertise and experience to handle their patent matters across all technical disciplines. We have six main patent teams including biotechnology and life sciences, chemistry, chemical engineering and pharmaceuticals, electrical, electronics and software engineering, mechanical, civil and mining engineering, patent agency filings and patent enforcement. Our specialists also form part of our multi-disciplinary teams covering various industry sectors including clean technology, gas, oil and energy, food beverage and FMCG, healthcare, therapeutics and medical technologies, mining and resources, and nanotechnology.
Designs involve substantial investment. Registering designs prevents the blatant copying of a design and should often be used with other forms of IP protection such as patents and trade marks. Although a registered design only safeguards the appearance of an article and offers a limited form of protection, it is beneficial to register. A product may be the subject of both patent and design protection - patents and registered designs should not be viewed as mutually exclusive. Our designs team has the necessary technical and legal qualifications as well as experience in the preparation, filing, prosecution and renewal of design applications across Africa and the Caribbean.