Patent searching and watching
Patent searches can identify third party patents that present an infringement risk if you market your product in particular territories and can help identify patentable features of your own products for your own patent applications. In addition, keeping an eye on the patent rights of other companies is an important element of an effective intellectual property strategy, and can provide an invaluable insight into the direction in which a competitor is heading.
Patent clearance or freedom-to-operate searches are used to identify patents that might be infringed when you go to market with a specific product or process. If carried out during development of your own products or processes, such searches can flag up potential problems and enable you to react accordingly.
Knowing the status of patents and patent applications owned by third parties gives you the opportunity to be proactive in avoiding potential conflicts, for example by re-engineering your product to avoid a competitor’s patent, negotiating a licence or cross-licence, or challenging the grant of your competitor’s patent.
For example at the UK and European Patent Offices it is possible to file third party observations on a patent application while it is pending to try to influence the opinion of the patent examiner. At the European Patent Office, it is also possible to file a patent opposition in the nine-month period after a patent is granted.
Patentability or prior art searches help to focus on which elements of your own products or processes might be patentable and therefore merit filing your own patent applications.
How we can help
We carry out patent searches, or arrange for specialist patent searchers to carry out patent searches, for freedom-to-operate purposes. We advise on the potential risk of infringement of any third party patents that are located, and whether the patents can be attacked or how your product or process might be changed to avoid infringing.
We can help you monitor your competitors’ patent portfolios by doing regular checks on the patent office registers to determine the status of their patents and/or patent applications.
We can also monitor a specific commercial or technical area to identify any new patent applications that have been filed, for example concerning a particular technology.
We also carry out patent searches or arrange for specialist patent searchers to carry out patent searches for patentability purposes. This is to help identify features of your products or processes that might be patentable, to enable you to obtain your own patent protection for your own innovations.
Introduction of the Unified Patent Court in Europe
The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys has released a video explaining the upcoming changes to the patent system in Europe and the introduction of the United Patent Court on 1 June 2023.