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Patent search

Each patent application is published by the patent-granting authority approximately 18 months after being filed. A patent is also published as soon as it has been granted. All these publications are included in patent databases and include a wealth of information about the applicants and their innovations. You can leverage this information intelligently for your innovation, product development or business strategy.

The patent applications and patents that have been published in databases include information about the applicant, the inventor, the subject matter, and the invention. But also the documentation from the granting procedure, for example, the novelty report is often included in the databases. This information comes in handy when you have designed an innovation and, on that basis, an examination can be conducted into whether the innovation is patentable, for example. Or, whether it is worthwhile filing a patent application.

Strategic information

The information in the database can also provide insight into new products, technologies or processes being patented. That is handy for innovation or product development, for example. By placing all the information in a timeline, trends can be recognized and potential market opportunities identified. This means the information can also be used to determine the business strategy.

We can assist you with various forms of patent searches, such as:

Novelty search

This type of search – the novelty search or patentability search – is conducted in order to examine whether an innovation is patentable prior to filing a patent application. It provides insight into what is already known about the invention (prior art). This is important because novelty is one of the requirements for patenting. Read more

Infringement search

An infringement search or third-party patent rights search – freedom to operate search– is a broad and comprehensive search providing insight into the question of whether a specific technique can be used. This minimizes the risks of accidently infringing on an existing patent. Infringement searches are often conducted with product or technological developments, just before market introduction, or in due diligence. Read more

Validity search

A validity search, also called opposition or patent invalidity search, examines the validity and strength of a patent. The purpose is to be able is to contest the validity of the patent as a whole or certain claims in the patent, in particular novelty and inventiveness. Such a search is often conducted in response to an accusation of infringement or when the validity of a patent is in question. Read more

Patent monitoring

Patent monitoring or patent watch provides insight into patent applications filed, granted, or rejected over a specific period of time. It provides details of the applicant, the subject matter, and the status of patent documents. It allows the monitoring of the activities of specific companies, or all activities within a certain technological domain, without restriction by patent applicants or holders. This enables you to track developments of your competitors or get an idea of new technology. Read more


This type of search is also called IP mapping and it is mainly used to provide direction for a patent or innovation strategy. It is a way to explore a broader area and get an idea of the patent landscape with respect to certain technology, while also providing insight into what competitors are doing and what specializations are on the horizon. Furthermore, landscaping is used during the various phases of an innovation process. Read more

Bibliographic search

A bibliographic search includes several different searches conducted in various databases based on basic patent data. For example, a name search, a status search, and a family search. Such searches are generally conducted in the exploratory phase, and they provide a wealth of information. Read more

Searches by professionals

Conducting an effective and thorough patent search requires a great deal of specialist knowledge. V.O. has a team of patent information specialists who work together with the patent attorney to address a wide range of questions clients may have about patents. In doing so, they always adhere to the fixed step-by-step plan shown below.

In the video below, Perry Prince shows how a patent search is conducted in practice:

Request a patent search

Do you want to discover strategic information from patent databases for your business or innovation? Then request one or more of our searches directly using the form below or send an email to recherche@vo.eu.

Meet our patent information specialists

Perry Prince

Patent information specialist

Mandy Roos

Patent data


Jorrit ten Berg

Patent information specialist

Yur Griffioen

Patent information specialist


Perry Prince

Patent information specialist

Mandy Roos

Patent data specialist

Jorrit ten Berg

Patent information specialist

Yur Griffioen

Patent information specialist


Frequently asked questions about patent search

No, that is not possible. In principle, all patent applications are published after 18 months. The only way to prevent this is to withdraw your application prior to publication. It can therefore no longer result in a granted patent.

There are various classification systems worldwide, but the most commonly used are the International Classification Codes (IPC) and the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC). These are systems that classify patent documents based on their content. All bodies that publish and grant patent documents are required to use IPC classes. This means that every patent document published has one or several IPC classes. The IPC is a vast system that comprises over 100,000 different classes.

The CPC is a combined classification system used by the European and American Patent Offices. It is even more extensive than the IPC, comprising over 250,000 classes. This system is increasingly used by national patent-granting authorities (alongside the European and American Patent Offices), such as the China National Intellectual Property Administration and the Korean Intellectual Property Office.

An initial patentability search costs around €750, a comprehensive search costs around €1500. The exact costs depend on the technological domain and the research subject matter.

A patent application or patent includes information about the applicant and inventor, the date of filing, status of the application, and the countries or regions in which the patent application has been filed and granted. Of course, the invention itself is also in the patent. Besides information about the subject matter and the invention, you can also read what falls under the scope of protection of the patent. The last aspect is determined by the claims in the patent.

On the ‘A detailed look at a patent’ page, you will find an example of a patent with an explanation.

There are various types of patent searches. The most commonly used search types are: novelty search, infringement search, validity search, patent monitoring, landscaping, and bibliographic searches.

You can read more about these on the ‘Various types of patent searches’ page.

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Contact our experts

Marijke Westra

Marijke Westra

  • European and Dutch Patent Attorney, European Patent Litigator
  • Senior Associate
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