Table of Contents
Research on prior art
Is your invention as new as you think?
A search in the patent databases can help you take the decision to file a patent application (assessment of the validity requirements) and provide inspiration on how to formulate your patent claims.
This type of research offers a global view of the latest developments in technology, within a certain domain. It will allow you to become acquainted with the patent rights applied for and possibly granted by your competitors. On the basis of the patents found, you can compare your invention with the state of the art and possibly adjust the drafting of your application. A documentation of the most pertinent patents within your field of activity can be created.
If you wish to keep up to date with the evolution and trends within your own technical discipline on a regular basis, you can follow up on the results of a patent search within a certain technical domain or from a certain company by drawing up a search profile.
Research on freedom to exploit
In this examination, you will find out whether or not a product is already protected by a patent before it is put on the market. In this manner, you can avoid infringing any protection that is already in force.
A patent normally expires after 20 years. However, few patents are maintained during this entire period. That means that most of the millions of patent documents contain technological information that everyone is free to apply in any way they want. Of course, one must guard against infringing patents that are still valid.
Research as part of a patent opposition or invalidity action
Research results may also be used to defend against allegations of counterfeiting or to challenge the validity of a granted patent.
Gaining insight into the market (general exploration)
A patent is a strategic tool that makes it possible to detect in time the technical areas that may be important in the near future. It is therefore possible to obtain information on technical centres of gravity and trends by examining a number of applications in a given sector or from certain companies. On a macro-economic level, patents can provide information on the technological orientation of a country, a continent and even the world.