You don’t want to be confronted with others’ patents afterwards.

Daan Settels, Saskia Schildkamp and Laura van Eekelen

Patent search

Before we apply for a patent, it may be recommended to figure out the likelihood of success of your application, for example because only limited information is available on what already exists in the field of the invention (prior art).

A patent search can also be helpful in terms of gathering information on the market, for example before any product launches that might be scheduled (where you want to avoid infringing on others’ patents after the fact).

If this does happen for whatever reason, the results of a patent search can shed new light on the situation. The competitor’s position may not be as strong as they would like it to appear.

In the aforementioned and countless other situations our search department can be of service.

We will discuss the search objective with you in advance and tell you beforehand what the turnaround time will be, along with the estimated costs of the search. After completion we will give you an expert and practical recommendation based on the search results.

Indicative feasibility study for patent applications for new inventions

We can perform an indicative feasibility study at your request before drafting the patent application. This involves investigating to what extent your invention is novel, and based on the documents which emerge during the study we then estimate whether the new features are likely to be ruled inventive.

The results of the study help us to both determine whether the subject matter that might be eligible for a patent would in fact offer meaningful protection, and to more accurately define the scope of the patent application in relation to the documents found, thereby increasing the likelihood of allowance.

Monitoring competitors patent positions in order to gain market insight

Periodically we inform you of the latest patent publications by selected competitors which have appeared in the preceding period. A patent monitor not only shows general trends in terms of advances in a specific technical field; it also shows you in what areas of research and development your competitors are active, which could qualify as key market information. The patent monitor also allows you to check whether a specific product can be launched in the market without any complications.

At the time when a potentially problematic patent application is first published, there is still time to prepare a possible opposition or file an invalidity suit. We can then provide strategic advice based on the search results.

Freedom-to-operate (FTO) analysis for new product launches

Even before a new product is ready to be launched in the market, it’s recommended that you investigate whether you have the freedom to launch this product. A freedom-to-operate (FTO) analysis is designed to investigate whether you may infringe on someone else’s patent claims, allowing them to keep the product off the market.

We can list relevant patents for a specific product and inform you whether there is risk of infringement on third-party patents. In addition, we can work with you to explore whether there is an option to work around these patents during product development or whether there are opportunities to challenge the validity of these patents.

State-of-the-art analysis to declare a competitor’s patent invalid

It’s possible n to challenge the validity of a competitor’s patent if the invention for which the patent was granted was not novel or inventive at the time the patent application was filed (obviously, this needs to be backed up with evidence).

If no evidence is available yet, we can search for documents and publications dating from before the filing date of the patent application (known as the ‘state of the art’) evidencing that the patent grant was unwarranted. Once we’ve completed this investigation, we can initiate proceedings to have the patent declared invalid, or we can hang on to the evidence in case the patent holder decides to file an infringement suit.