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Research institutes in South Africa are failing to file patents fast enough to profit the country, says the government's department of science and technology (DST).

An international study shows that South Africa's annual patent rate is 2.5 patents per million people, compared to 75 in Australia and 779 in South Korea. The low rate carries potentially serious implications for the South African economy. The DST's chief operating officer blames the low rate on a lack of skills at tertiary institutions, insufficient incentives, and an inadequate regulatory framework

The department is now drafting a new policy on managing intellectual property rights coming from publicly funded research. Among other provisions, the new rules will give the government the right to take over a patent if it is in the national interest to do so.

Link to full Business Day news story