IP Management

IP Guide for SMEs


Using Patent Information for the Benefit of Your SME





By World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)



What is “Patent Information”?

Patent information” is the technical and legal information contained in patent documents that are published periodically by patent offices. A patent document includes the full description of how a patented invention works and the claims which determine the scope of protection as well as details on who patented the invention, when it was patented and reference to relevant literature. About two-thirds of the technical information revealed in patents is never published elsewhere and the entire set of patent documents worldwide includes approximately 40 million items. This makes patent information the single most comprehensive collection of classified technological data.

Why is Patent Information Useful for Your SME?

Patent information is useful for SMEs for a number of reasons. Probably the most important one is that patents are a unique source of technical information which SMEs may find of great value for their strategic business planning. Most inventions are disclosed to the public for the first time when the patent (or, where the law so provides, when the patent application) is published. Thus, patents provide a means of learning about current research and innovations often long before the innovative products Download PowerPoint presentation, pdf e-book appear on the market.



The technical information contained in patent documents can provide your SME with important insights that may be used to:

  • Avoid unnecessary expenses in researching what is already known

  • Identify and evaluate technology for licensing and technology transfer

  • Identify alternative technologies

  • Keep abreast with the latest technologies in your field of expertise

  • Find ready solutions to technical problems

  • Get ideas for further innovation

From the point of view of the commercial strategy of your enterprise, patent information would help to:

Finally, the information contained in patent documents could also be used by SMEs to:

  • Avoid possible infringement problems

  • Assess patentability of your own inventions

  • Oppose grant of patents wherever they conflict with your own patent




What are the Advantages of Patent Documents as a Source of Information?

  • They contain information which is often not divulged in any other form of literature.

  • They have a relatively standardized format including an abstract, bibliographic information, a description of, and in most cases also drawings illustrating the invention and full details on the applicant.

  • They are classified according to technical fields.

  • They provide examples of industrial applicability of an invention.

  • They cover practically every field of technology.



Where and how can Patent Information be Obtained?

The emergence of web-based searchable patent databases has significantly facilitated the access to, and reduced the costs of, using patent information. Wherever web-based databases are not available, patent databases may be consulted manually, on microfilms or CD-ROMs, at the national patent offices, or through commercial organizations. Sources of patent information include the following:

  • WIPO’s Intellectual Property Digital Library (a comprehensive electronic database on international patent applications since 1997 filed under the PCT system.)

  • National patent offices: technological information services based on patent information are usually provided in exchange for a fee.

  • Patent agents/patent attorneys or commercial organizations.

  • Individual manual searches in patent centers, libraries or national patent offices.

  • Individual electronic searches through electronic databases or CD-ROMs.