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Patents: About Patents

What is a patent?

"A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.

In principle, the patent owner has the exclusive right to prevent or stop others from commercially exploiting the patented invention. In other words, patent protection means that the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed, imported or sold by others without the patent owner's consent.

In general, the exclusive rights are only applicable in the country or region in which a patent has been filed and granted, in accordance with the law of that country or region.

The protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years from the filing date of the application."

Extract from the web site of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

Why search for patents?

There are several reasons for searching patent information:

  1. You are interested in obtaining a patent, i.e. a protection of an invention you have made. Before you start the process of applying for a patent, it is advisable that you check that your invention has not yet been patented.
  2. Estimates show that 80% of technical information disclosed in patents are not published elsewhere. This means that often it is not enough to search for scientific literature published as journal articles, books etc.. Patent applications are often published earlier than journal articles, and patents describe technical details, including drawings, and  research data. This means that by including patent databases in your information searches, you can
  • identify new research areas
  • avoid duplication of research efforts
  • find out how something works
  • find information about a company's activities