Our Intellectual Property Group provides clients with a full range of legal services relating to the acquisition, enforcement and commercialisation of intellectual property rights.

These services include counsel and handling of transactions in cases involving patents, copyrights, trade marks, designs, licensing, and data security. The partners and associates in our intellectual property group also litigate these issues in courts across Africa. Adams & Adams is the largest IP firm in Africa and is ranked among the leading firms in Intellectual Property in the world.

What is a copyright?

Unlike the legal protection of inventions and patents, copyright law protects the form of expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. The creativity protected by copyright law is in the selection and arrangement of words, musical notes, colours and shapes. Our copyright laws protect the owner of property rights against those who copy or otherwise take and use the form in which the original work was expressed by the author. A created work is considered protected as soon as it exists, and, except for films or movies, a public register of copyright protected works is not necessary.

Adams & Adams Copyright Services

“I saw a child fall down. Under a shower of bullets I rushed forward and went for the picture. It had been a peaceful march, the children were told to disperse, they started singing Nkosi Sikelele. The police were ordered to shoot.” These are the words of Sam Nzima, the man whose photograph of the dying Hector Peterson being carried by a fellow student was published around the world and came to represent the tragedy of a day that changed the course of South Africa’s history.

That was in 1976. More recently, Adams & Adams, Africa’s largest intellectual property law firm, was involved in facilitating the return of copyright of the famous photograph to Sam, and in assisting in the placement of that copyright in a trust so that Mr. Nzima’s family will benefit from it in years to come.

There are two types of rights under copyright. Economic rights allow the rights owner to derive financial reward from the use of his works by others. Moral rights allow the author to take certain actions to preserve the personal link between him and the work.

The Copyright Law team of Adams & Adams deals with all matters relating to copyright, including:

  • Registration of copyright in cinematograph films and movies
  • Litigation, including piracy (civil and criminal litigation)
  • Licences, assignment and other agreements
  • Information Technology (IT) and computer law