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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Use PatentScope

WIPO stands for the World Intellectual Property Organization

Use this Free Tool

WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, has a tool that's available for free, called PatentScope. With this tool, it is possible to search prior art patents from multiple databases, which many inventors pay professionals to do.

PatentScope covers quite a number of countries, but to date, does not include Malaysia. (That means, if you want to search the Malaysian patent database online, you'll have to look elsewhere.)

You could think of PatentScope as a tool for researching prior art. But it could be more than that, too.

Why PatentScope (or, the benefits of searching prior art)

The search for prior art is to inventing like the search for literature to academicia. Most academics have to acknowledge the earlier ideas that had been developed in their field, and reference them in a way that says, "Here's what this guy wrote, and that guy wrote, but they didn't address this..."

In the same way, patents are drafted with some background being described, i.e. the prior art, to show earlier attempts to resolve the problem, and, how the present invention is new (and different from the prior art).

For those who wonder, "prior art" is the term used in the patent drafting profession to describe whatever previous inventions have been made that attempted to solve the same problem as the invention being applied for.

Searching for prior art is a necessary part of the patent drafter's job, because the patent drafter needs to know if the invention has been patented before. If it has, it fails the test of novelty, and is therefore unpatentable. (However, the scope of the patent can be narrowed or changed, through the amendment of the claims, and this may yield a patentable invention. More on that another day.)

Searching for prior art is also important for inventors, and companies that employ inventors, so that they know what has been done before, so that they need not spend money on the same efforts.

Predict the future

Finally, searching the patent database for filings by known "innovators" will show their competitors what these innovators are moving towards. This is considered an early lead information, because patents tend to be filed whenever there is a new technology with potential being considered for commercialization. However, at the stage of filing, much of the kinks have yet to be worked out, so the technology may or may not become mainstream. Knowing that certain patents are being filed, however, is a way to prognosticate (predict) the future.

The scope of PatentScope

PatentScope patent data search covers the following databases:

  • America: USA, Canada
  • PCT (patent co-operation treaty)
  • Oceania: Australia
  • Asia: China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Viet Nam
  • Europe: Denmark, European Patent Office, Eurasian Patent Office, Estonia, France, Germany, Portugal, Russian Federation, Spain, United Kingdom, 
  • Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay
  • Middle East: Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, 
  • Africa: ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization), Kenya, South Africa

What a long list of countries. They are all good members of WIPO and have generously made available their patent databases through the WIPO PatentScope search. They participate in the dialogue on IP (intellectual property) and they actively contribute to it.

Because of that, I hope that Malaysia will also make its patent database data available to the world through PatentScope. This might help increase the number of filings of new patents in Malaysia (because inventors think that the prior art doesn't show anything).

Every year, I attend talks on technology and innovation. I often hear that Malaysia is nowhere near the top in terms of patent filings per citizen. That could change, if Malaysia takes a chance (by sharing its patent database with the world, for free). If we want more innovation and technology, we have to take certain chances and make certain changes.

Who filed the most PCT applications in 2016?


You can try out the free WIPO PatentScope search.

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