It takes time and money to develop a product. You should therefore ensure that you do not simply 'reinvent the wheel'.
The majority of the global technical innovative developments is described in patent literature. By searching patent literature, you can gain surprising information, such as information about what other people have already invented.
The Intellectual property system
The industrial property system has two main functions: the so-called "exclusivity function" and the "information function". The fact that a patent gives an inventor an exclusive right on a special knowledge and by doing so limits the possibilities of access to this special technology for other enterprises is compensated by the obligation for the inventor to disclose the information about the newly developed technology for public access. This second function of the IP system, referred to as the information function, is very important for the continuous development of the technology.
Patent documents contain descriptions of scientific and technical concepts as well as practical details of processes and apparatus. Patents generally disclose technological information by describing the inventions in accordance with the requirements of the applicable patent law and by indicating the claimed novelty and inventiveness by reference to the existing state-of-the-art. They are thus sources of information, and in many cases furnish a history, in summary form, of the technological progress in the field of technology to which they relate.
Every innovation should start with a (patent) search. After all, in the case of innovation, it is important to be well-informed of technological developments that already exist. This will enable you to make a well-considered decision: either to stop or to continue developing and/or patenting.
Databases and registers
Netherlands Patent Office, a department of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, provides a number of technical and legal databases free of charge.
Difference between databases and registers
There is a major difference between patent databases and patent registers.
- If you want to know whether your invention is new, you should search in patent databases. Here you can find complete patent publications with text and drawings. If you are not familiar with searching in patent databases, please consult ‘How to search’
- If you want to know more about the legal status of a patent, you should look in the patent registers. Here you will find information like the date of granting and validity of the patent. You can also see amendments in the patent procedure, like opposition against the patent, the sale or expiry of the patent.
For information on the various patent databases and registers and their contents, please consult the overview. For information about the other IP rights, you can consult trademark and design databases.