A patent search is indispensable before you start working on a new idea. In most cases there are some similar patents that can cause the end of the project. We highly recommend that you do a patent search not just once but also in later stages of your project. If you have any doubts we recommend you to contact our experts. In this article we give you the most important information for an upcoming patent search in Germany.
Everyone is able to do a cost-free research himself! There are various databases and help centers, which you can visit for free. You will soon notice that only the help of a patent attorney will grant a 100% accurate patent research.
When should the patent search start?
The patent search should be done in several parts. At first before you develop your idea, and later before you register the patent. Before you develop your idea, you should do a so-called “State of the art” – investiagation. Hereby you avoid an expensive developement which cannot be registrated at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office. Later you have to check the database a second time for updates.
Maybe now you have more details of your invention for the patent search, you didn’t thought about at the first time.
Where can I search for patents?
To choose the correct site to search for patents you have to decide in which country you would like to register your invention. In most cases there are just two sites that should interest you, they are called DEPATISnet and Espacenet.
With DEPATISnet you have access to a patent archive with about 88 million records from 100 countries. Almost 60% of the records are avalible as PDF. The DPMA tool allows not only to search in all German patent documents since 1877, but also in documents of many other patent offices and organizations across the world. Depending on what you already know there are five different modes avalible (beginner, expert, IKOFAX, family and PIZ support).
Espacenet offers free access to more than 80 million patent documents from around the world with information about inventions and technical developements from 1836 to today.
With Espacenet you can follow technological innovations, identify solutions to technical problems, observe your competitors developements and translate already patent documents using “patent translate”.
Compared to DEPATISnet Espacenet is positioned internationally and more extensive.
The correct handling: How do I do a patent search?
Both portals offer several strategies for your patent so that even beginners will find what they are searching for. Newcomers should search by keyword, so that you can directly find the right patent via the title or their summary. Advanced users may search directly by field of expertise. Do you have the patent number? Then you can enter it and view the documents. When looking for patents of a paticular company, owner or even the inventor, this is also possivle without detours. The results of each search are then output in the form of tables.
Espacenet and the “SmartSearch”
Espacenet has developed an especially handy tool for beginners that can automatically assign keywords to the appropriate field, the “smart search”.
When smart search various functions in a simple search box summerized, so you can enter your query with or without field. You can enter in one search box in any order names of inventors and assignees, numbers, dates, keywords and classification symbols. Great thing: You do not need to know the exact chronological order of numbers or keywords, “Fuzzy Logic” completes this work. The search engine will “guess” what you mean. On top of the hit list you see how the system has interpreted your request.
Research via the query form
The safer option is to research via the classic search. The “Smart Search” is indeed a handy feature for quick searches, but it is less suitable for serious research. To access the query form in Depatis go to “Beginners”, in Espacenet search for the “Advanced search”.
Here are several search fields for a precise search. The title can be searched easily and self explanatory in two search screens, but is very important to know that many patents have bad title such as “kitchen appliance” or “vehicle”. That makes highly specialized search queries more difficult since the description title is too imprecise.
The Espacenet has a handy search for keywords in the title or abstract writings. Most of the present patents in the database also have a summary. So in this way it can be searched. Unfortunately Depatis has no such function. Therefore, the search language is mostly limited to English. German keywords usually lead to incomplete results.
However, the Depatis offers a full text search with the entire text of all existing full texts in the database. Depending on which keywords are searched, it can be very useful, but on the other hand it could lead to confusing results.
In Espacenet as well in Depatis there is a field to search for applicants and inventors. Using this field you can search for a list you can search for a list of patents that have already been patented by there companies. The advantage is the practical personal and business-related searches, the downside this that sometimes incomplete information can be found. The reason is that many companies apply for patents on subsidiaries, but the spelling must always match completely (no automatic conversion of A or ae).
Both search engines provide a search on the basis of the technical subject area. Each patent is assigned to a technical field worldwide. This is done based on the International Patent Classification (IPC) or the European Classification (ECLA). Often the assignment is not clean, so it is worthwile to also draw on other classifications for research.
The subject areas of the patents can be found at www.wipo.int (IPC) or via the Espacenet itself (Classification search).
Of course, a simple search does not replace attending the lawyer, however, with a very good preparation and a conscientious work up a similar resoult can be achieved. You should take enough time for it, because if you make a mistake during the research it can have unforseen consequences which should be avoided.
Are you interested in a professional patent search?
If you have any questions left, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to help you. 🙂