Patents can be searched in open and free to use databases provided by EPO (European Patent Office) and WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). Default time period for publication of patents is 18 months, which means that patent applications, which are filed in a period one and half year back from now, will not be seen on the search, except some titles of inventions provided by specific patent offices (usually from Korea).
What information can be found on the patent database?
When making a search in WIPO or EPO databases, the short list of relevant patents indicates only titles together with relevant bibliographic data (applicant(s), inventors, dates, classification, etc.). After pressing on a title, an abstract of a certain invention can be retrieved. Abstract is a minimum amount of information, which should be provided for each published patent. However some patent offices, especially from Asia, do not provide this minimum information on time.
Going further, detailed information of the patent description, drawings and claims can be retrieved, as well as a International Search Report can be obtained, if published.
Patent search techniques are provided in our earlier posts: