Patent Office launches online search service

A new system to provide information about patents has been launched today as part of the Patent Office web site.

Esp@ceNet offers a database of all patents registered with the UK Patent Office and the European Patent Office over the last two years and will be a quick reference for those wishing to find out about the viability of a new idea.

Patents can be searched in numerous ways -- by publication number, application number, priority number, publication date, applicant, inventor or IPC classification and title. From there, a user will be able to get a description of the invention, the drawings and the patent claims.

According to research by the European Commission, £20bn is wasted in Europe every year on research as a result of repetition work. As 80% of technical information can only be found in patent specifications, this online service could speed up the process of invention and save resources.

Mike King, a partner with Edgeworth, King and Co, undertakes patent searches for companies and believes that no database can provide sufficient information. "For someone to get a patent, the product must be unique and to check this we often have to go back 50 years or more. It is a lot of research" he said.

Hugh Jones, senior examiner for the Search and Advisory Service at the Patent Office believes the system will grow over the next year. "At the moment we only have information for the past two years. In time the database will build up" he said.


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