First time here? Patent information explained.

What is patent information?

Patent information is the name we give to the technical information you find in patent documents, plus legal and business-relevant information about them.

Patent documents consist of

  • a first page comprising basic information, such as the title of the invention and the name of the inventor
  • a detailed description of the invention indicating how it is constructed, how it is used and what benefits it offers compared with what already exists
  • drawings
  • claims containing a clear and concise definition of what the patent legally protects

Why use patent information?

Patent documents contain information which can be vital to a broad variety of professions. These range from technical developers and researchers to legal advisers and business strategy managers.

Patent information can be helpful in many ways. For example, you can use it:

To find out what already exists and build on it

If you are faced with a technical problem, there is no better way of finding out what solutions are already available than by looking at patents.

To keep track of who's doing what

Technical details of research being carried out by your competitors may well appear first in a patent document, long before the product reaches the marketplace.

By monitoring patent documents, you can keep an eye on your business competitors or even locate potential partners.

You can also use patent information to identify patents that are no longer in force and can be freely used. Finally, by watching patent publications, you can spot trends in technology or the market at an early stage.

To avoid infringing other people's patent rights

Before you launch a new product or service, you need to make sure that you will not be infringing someone else's patent. Patent information will help you here, too.

Getting started

To help you learn about patent information and its uses, we have created an interactive e-learning tool.

Find out more by taking the Patent Information Tour.

You can also check our forthcoming online seminars and courses for beginners.

Find an expert near you

If you live in Europe and need advice about patents, help could be close at hand.

The PATLIB network consists of 300 patent information centres spread across a number of European countries. To find out which centres are near you and learn more about the services they offer, take a look at our PATLIB directory.