1. Patent searches
We can check databases to look for patents or patents applications regarding a specific technology or a technical field. We can also look for patents or patent applications registered in the name of specific applicants (individuals or companies) or inventors.
One way of checking if your product or idea has already been invented and patented by somebody else is to perform a prior art search and consult patents databases, such as e.g. Espacenet, the database provided by the European Patent Office. Based on the findings of the prior art search, we can more easily identify the novel and inventive features of your invention, and advise on whether a patent application should be filed and what scope of protection should be targeted. Indeed, the prior art search helps to identify the closest prior arts and thus can define the scope of protection in patent claims. This can even lead to a reduction in the prosecution time due to the need for fewer office actions and claim amendments. The prior art search is like a due diligence exercise that can reduce the risk of rejection of the patent application. Moreover, performing a prior art search (or prior check of databases) can avoid wasting money and resources in patent filings and prosecution proceedings if the invention has already been patented by somebody else, allowing you to use your IP budget wisely.
Prior checks of patent databases are also of interest to determine whether you are free to operate your process or commercialise your product by assessing that no one else has a patent covering the same process or product. Prior checks can also help you assess the protection your competitor might have and also determine the assets of a company you are interested to invest in, e.g. through a merger and acquisition process.
A limitation to the patents and patent applications search is that we can only access published patents and patent applications. This means that if someone has applied for a patent within the last 18 months, this application will not be visible; i.e. we will not be able to detect it.
2. Trademark searches
We can check trademark databases to check the availability of your sign in your domain of activities.
Based on the findings of the prior art search, we can more easily identify the similarity between the existing rights and your project.
Indeed, the prior art search helps to identify the closest prior arts and thus can define the risk of opposition and the possibility of coexistence.
This search leads to a reduction in the prosecution time due to the need for fewer office actions and/or oppositions and limitations, allowing you to use your IP budget wisely.
Prior checks of trademark databases are also of interest to determine whether you are free to commercialise your goods and services by assessing that no one else has a similar trademark covering the same activities.