It can be useful for staff and students to search in patent databases. Such a search can, for example, be used to discover:
- What has already been done in the relevant technical field before work on the research project begins, or even to find ideas for new projects or solutions to technical problems.
- Whether the invention (research results) violates an existing patent.
- Whether the invention (research results) is already known and therefore impossible to patent.
- What inventions certain researchers are registered as the inventors of.
- What companies are applying for patents in a particular field.
Espacenet allows the user to search for and view over 70 million patents and patent applications from the foremost developed countries in the world. It also includes other information, e.g. the legal status of applications. The database is run by the European Patent Office and the Icelandic version of the database is available on the Patent Office website.
PatentScope is a database run by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It includes published international patent applications, as well as patents and patent applications from many countries. Other free databases include, e.g., Google patents, Freepatentsonline.com and the US Patent and Trade Office database, but it must be kept in mind that search functions are better for some databases than others, and different databases contain different amounts of information (patents).