MechChem Africa

MechChem Africa talked to Janusz Luterek of Intellectual Property specialist, Hahn & Hahn about his company’s experience of obtaining and protecting patent, design and Trade Mark rights in South Africa and the entire African continent.

Janusz LuterekDoctor WA Hahn arrived in South Africa from Europe during 1948, after having previously accumulated 20 years of patent expertise in the chemical industry. “While qualifying as a South African patent agent, Hahn senior spent several years working for Sasol, heading up international license negotiations and setting up Sasol’s patent and documentation department,” Luterek tells MechChem Africa.

In 1951 he founded his own law firm, WA Hahn, near to the South African Patents and Trade Marks’ office and law courts in Pretoria. “For some years the firm continued to manage Sasol's patent department on a contract basis, while also working for other local industries such as ISCOR. In building up the firm Hahn re-established contacts with industry and colleagues all over the world.

“In 1957, he was joined by his son, Hans Helmut (HH) Hahn, who had just completed his doctorate in oil and coal chemistry at the University of Karlsruhe, Germany,” Luterek relates. HH Hahn qualified as a patent agent in 1959 and, during 1961, on becoming a partner of the firm, the company was renamed Drs W A Hahn & H H Hahn, from which the current name Hahn & Hahn emerged.

Hans & Hahn’s technical experience includes all aspects of mechanical engineering and chemistry including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and petrochemistry; chemical engineering; conventional and alternative energy; natural and synthetic oils; bituminous substances; wood and pulp technologies; mining, prospecting, and mineral beneficiation; metallurgy; separation methods and apparatus; ecology; energy saving and industrial buildings.

HH Hahn was also highly skilled in technical translation and is fluent in English, German, Afrikaans and Dutch, while having a reading knowledge of French. “During his years with us – and he is still with us today – he expanded Hahn & Hahn into a fully fledged Africa practice for filing patent and trade mark applications in South Africa, Angola, Nigeria, Egypt and other African countries through bodies such ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation) and OAPI (Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle),” says Luterek.

Janusz Luterek, now one of the seven directors of Hahn & Hahn Inc, studied chemical engineering at the University of Pretoria before starting his career at the CSIR with the Chemical Engineering Research Group. Following restructuring, he was assigned to Food Science and Technology, which led to a period in industry building breweries, dairies and fruit juice factories.

“Many of the world’s chemical engineers end up in the food industry and, in South Africa at the time when I qualified as an engineer, South African Breweries employed more chemical engineers than Sasol,” he says. “As well as all the pumps and valves needed for processing, the food and beverage industries are the largest users of plate heat exchangers and evaporators in the world,” he says, adding: “I designed and built quite a few clean in place (CIP) systems during my early career as an engineer and I was recently pleased to see that one of my systems was still being used by the Cape Town dairy it was built for.”

Luterek went on to study law and to become a patent attorney. He joined Hahn & Hahn 20 years ago, in 1997. “With four qualified chemical engineers, servicing clients such as BASF, Sasol and Sapref, a large percentage of our work still has a chemical focus, but our professional staff now includes chemical, electronic and mechanical engineers; organic chemists; biotechnologists; and electrical engineers, who are all qualified attorneys specialising in intellectual property,” Luterek says.

IP for catalysts and fuel

He says that companies have cut down on IP development ...

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