Do you have a brilliant idea? Getting a European patent will prevent others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling your idea within the EU market place.
To do that, the European Patent Office (EPO) provides basic information about the steps involved in the European patent granting procedure (visit the EPO website). However, you should check the following issues before starting your patent procedure:
- You must test that your invention can be patentable. An invention (a product, a process or a device) must be new and industrially applicable to be patentable. Additionally, it must have involved an inventive step. You can validate if you have committed any of the seven deadly signs of the inventor as a general guideline.
- Assess if patenting is the most suitable option to protect your idea. There are other ways of protecting your intellectual property rights:
- Utility models allow protection of technical innovations in some specific countries. Utility models have a shorter term and less demanding requirements than patents.
- Copyright is usually applied to creative or artistic work (literature, musical compositions, broadcasts, etc.), protecting them against unauthorised copying and certain other uses.
- Trademarks are distinctive signs (letters, numbers, words, shapes, logos, etc.) identifying brands of products or services
- Designs and models protect a product's visual appearance (shape, contours, colour, etc.)
- Analyse if your invention has already been protected by carrying out a patent search. The following databases allow you to make such consultations:
- Espacenet is a search utility developed by the European Patent Office. It offers free access to more than 80 million patent documents worldwide.
- Patentscope is provided by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). By using it you can search among 36 million patent documents, including 2.2 million published international patent applications (PCT).
If you find that Espacenet and Patenscope are difficult to use, the INNEON patent search utility provides a simplified tool focused on patents related to the environment. Do not hesitate to try it!!!