November 1, 2012

Patent and Invention Searches

By Antonio Campero

Registered patents and inventions represent the technological status of a sector or country. Today, nearly all
industrialized countries have electronic databases run by their government operated patent and trademark offices,
which include inventions that have been registered and that are currently being used, or which will soon be used
in commerce. As a result, it is relevant, though infrequent, for companies to consider searching various databases
run by the governmental patent and trademark offices (meaning registered inventions or those whose registration
is under way and have been published), in order to become aware of the technological tendencies within their
sector. Failure to do so means potentially losing out on a great opportunity to initiate investigations based on the
results obtained and being able to identify those inventions that have entered the public domain because of the
passage of time so that such may be used by anyone. Companies frequently develop new and costly products and
processes without first identifying their competitors’ products and processes that are currently in the market
and/or without identifying the direction in which their competitors are headed. Official databases containing
patent and invention registrations offer current information (pending applications are published prior to
registration in the majority of cases), which may allow for the identification of specific solutions to certain
problems and allow identification of legal protection for such inventions. As a result, searching these databases
may assist in avoiding potential infringement on inventions that belong to third parties. Thus, it is a good
practice for companies to develop a systematic and frequent search system of relevant inventions entering the
market that could affect future market trends and companies’ overall development strategy.


Issue 106–November 2012