Patent searching

Questions

Answers

I have an invention. How can I find out if something similar already exists and has been patented?

One way of checking whether or not your product or idea has already been invented and patented by somebody else is to consult the EPO's free search service Espacenet. The database contains more than 110 million patent documents - most of them patent applications rather than granted patents - from around the world.


How can I find out if a particular patent or patent application is still valid?

Legal status information (i.e. where and whether a patent is valid) for European and Euro-PCT applications is available via the EPO's free online European Patent Register, where you can also access the publicly available parts of the application file, including the grant stage (and including any opposition/appeal procedures).

Once they have been granted, European patents revert to the national patent offices of the designated states. You should therefore contact the relevant office for any post-grant legal status information you require.

Legal status information can also be accessed via the "INPADOC Legal Status" tab in Espacenet. This information is based on data the EPO receives from the national patent offices.

For more information you can also contact the EPO direct at patentdata@epo.org.


How can I get a copy of a patent? Where can I find European patent documents (e.g. A1 documents)?

You can obtain copies of European patent applications, specifications of granted European patent and corrected documents from the European publication server.


Where can I find patent statistics?

Basic EPO production statistics such as filing rates by technical domain, residence of applicants and inventors, the most active patent filers, etc. can be found in our annual reports and Facts and figures brochures.

The EPO website contains a general breakdown of these statistics by EPC state, which is also published in our annual reports.

Statistics from the IP5 offices

  • European Patent Office (EPO)
  • Japan Patent Office (JPO)
  • Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO)
  • National Intellectual Property Administration of the People's Republic of China (CNIPA)
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

can be found in the IP5 statistics reports. The reports also provide an overview of the key IP5 statistical indicators.

If you want to create more advanced statistics based on EPO data, we recommend that you use our patent information search and analysis products, such as PATSTAT, Espacenet and Global Patent Index (GPI). These patent information products allow you to select data and export it to other applications (MS Excel, MS Access) for further analysis and reporting.

PATSTAT – the EPO Worldwide Patent Statistical Database – is a subscription-based product aimed at patent information experts from research institutes, universities, governmental organisations and the like. Created by the EPO on behalf of the OECD Taskforce on Patent Statistics, PATSTAT is designed for advanced statistical research. Available as bulk data or online (PATSTAT Online), it is SQL-based, so users will need a solid grounding in databases and relational database management systems (see also FAQ - Patent statistics).

The filter module in Espacenet offers basic filtering functions that provide statistical analyses and visualisations of query results on predefined categories such as publication countries, applicant and inventor names and countries and classification symbols.

Global Patent Index (GPI), a subscription-based product where complex Boolean search queries can be run, also offers basic statistical analyses and visualisations.


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