Patent Search

Patent Search

What is the use of a search in patent and other technical literature?

Searches in patent and other technical literature yield information about the state of the art – all knowledge that was available to the public at a certain time within a technical field. Searches may be carried out by hand or on-line.

A search performed by hand is called a conventional search and is undertaken in a traditional way manually without computer or databases, for instance in libraries or in the public inspection hall at a patent office.

Very rapid access to a large amount of data is now possible by way of external data banks – such as esp@cenet – which are available to everybody. It should be borne in mind that no single database covers the whole extent of data available. It is however only possible to master the current flow of information using this search method, which is called an on-line search.

Searches should be carried out regularly, both before and during the technical development phase of projects, and afterwards.

A search of the state of the art before the beginning of a development project is especially important when building up a project on a basis of current technical knowledge, in order to avoid duplication of effort, ie projects working on an innovation which already exists. The European Commission has estimated that European industry is losing several billion EUR each year by repeating previous efforts. Moreover, a search is a simple way of finding out to what extent the competition already covers the market in the area of the development project, and if market gaps or niches exist.

Regular searches should also be carried out during a development project. Valuable ideas can be found in the state of the art, thus giving rise to new ideas which might be suitable for the on-going research and development project. Furthermore, property rights which could harm the development project may be detected at an early stage by means of such a search. Ways of bypassing these property rights may thus be looked for in time.

Finally, after the completion of a project, any resulting development should be tested for novelty, protection capacity, technical feasibility, and market feasibility. That will enhance chances that the patent application will become a granted patent. At the same time, patents from competitors interfering with your own patent could be discovered, and it might be possible to take legal steps against them in time.

A patent search also allows a better appraisal of market developments and of the activities of competitors. Generally speaking, it is helpful to find out what decisive innovative steps have been taken for what projects and in what technical area.

You will appreciate that the information resulting from a search of the patent and other literature may be of significant importance for your business activities. It may therefore be appropriate to set up a so-called watch service on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, keeping you up to date on developments on a particular area of technology and the patenting activities of competitors. A specially updated search profile taking account of a specific technical domain or of a specific company can be defined when arranging such a service.






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