The South African patents system is governed by the Patents Act, 1978 which affords protection to patents for inventions (including patents of addition). The absence of novelty vitiates a patent absolutely in South Africa and protection is refused obvious inventions. Unless a complete specification is filed in the first instance a priority date is established by an application accompanied by a provisional specification. Applicants deciding to pursue protection thereafter must file a fresh application accompanied by a complete specification within fifteen months of the date of filing of the provisional application claiming priority from that date. Examination is to form only and no examination on the merits takes place. The patent term is twenty years from the date of filing of the complete specification. A patent must be renewed every year from the fourth following the filing date.