Zum Inhalt springen


Do you work in a technical field? Have you developed new solutions or do patents play an important role? Then determining the state of the art is a must.

Patent searches play a central role for inventions in the technical field. Only inventions that are new are patentable, so determining the prior art is essential to assess whether the invention can be patented.

It is possible to conduct your own search via free patent databases (Espacenet, Depatisnet). To get started with patent searches, you can consult the Guide to Patent Searches. The IP Academy of the Austrian Patent Office also offers regular seminars on patent searching.

This is an important first step you should take in advance of any research activity or development of a technology or product. Think of the waste of resources and time should it turn out that your development is already known. Or worse, that a third party has already protected it.

A patent search can clarify many questions in advance:

  • What technical solutions already exist (state of the art)?
  • Are there any existing industrial property rights that stand in the way of the company's own development?
  • The free state of the art (patent applications that have never been granted, patents that are no longer valid, patent documents older than 20 years) can be freely used by anyone for commercial purposes!
  • Is the state of the art in the considered field already very extensive?
  • In which areas is patent or utility model protection still reasonably possible?
  • What new developments are there in a particular field?
  • Do competitors apply for patents in my field of expertise?

If your search does not reveal any documents that conflict with your own development, you can apply for a patent for your invention or commission a search (with or without an expert opinion) at the patent office without any obligation. You may also meet the criteria for a patent check. The professional searches of the Austrian Patent Office are conducted in databases containing patent and non-patent literature.

Patent searches can also be used as a monitoring tool, e.g. to find out whether a certain applicant has filed patents or whether patents have been filed or granted in a specific field during a certain period of time.

Patent searches can also be used for patent monitoring. Patent monitoring means that patent searches with specific search queries are carried out on a regular basis. In contrast to the classical search, which aims to determine the relevant state of the art for a specific solution, monitoring serves to observe a specific field of technology or a specific competitor. In other words, the search is not for a specific solution, but rather to monitor whether innovation is taking place in a specific field of technology. Or even more specifically, whether certain competitors have developed innovative solutions in a technology field. To achieve this, a query that consists of suitable search terms is created and repeated at regular intervals.

Regular monitoring can identify the following important information:

  • Important developments in a particular technological field (search query using classes - IPC, CPC).
  • Competitors’ patent applications and patent grants (search query via the Applicant or Inventor field).
  • Innovations for a solution with certain characteristics (search query via classes and search terms).

Regular querying of the database, or at least some queries over a longer period of time, is essential because patent applications are published only after 18 months. Therefore, it is only after 18 months that one learns which protection is being sought by a competitor. In addition, monitoring can also tell you whether a patent application has subsequently become a patent and thus whether the subject matter has also been protected. This is relevant, for example, in case of possible patent infringements.

Do not use trademarks that you know, based on your knowledge of the industry, are already being used by (potential) competitors in the same or a similar form.

Earlier rights can lead to later trademark rights being cancelled again or not being allowed to be used due to an injunction. In order to avoid court proceedings and costs, we therefore recommend a thorough search for earlier - registered, but also unregistered - rights even before a trademark application is filed.

  • In order to find out BEFORE filing an application which identical or possibly similar trademarks exist, you can search yourself in free trademark databases (e.g. see.ip, TMview, eSearch plus, Madrid Monitor). A first hint can often be found in common Internet search engines.The IP Academy of the Austrian Patent Office regularly offers seminars on trademark search.
  • At the Patent Office, it is possible to have a 24-hour trademark similarity search or a so-called Pre Check carried out outside of an application procedure. The trademark similarity search lists all similar trademarks and is rather something for IP professionals. With the Pre Check, you will receive a comprehensive analysis and legal assessment of your trademark from experts at the Austrian Patent Office. You will then know, even without prior knowledge in the field of trademark law, whether your trademark is protectable and whether there are already registered trademarks that are similar and liable to be confused.
  • In the trademark application procedure at the Austrian Patent and Trademark Office (ÖPA), you will receive - unless you have explicitly waived this right in the application procedure - a similarity protocol in paper form, drawn up in accordance with the legal requirements, which will provide you with information about any earlier registered trademarks that may conflict with your application and give you a certain reaction time.

ATTENTION: A similarity report cannot be requested for fast-track online applications. A search for possibly conflicting earlier rights of third parties already BEFORE the fast-track application is therefore highly recommended.

Find out about existing designs and registered designs before you file your application!

The Austrian Patent Office does not check during the application procedure whether identical or similar designs are registered. However, earlier rights may result in your registered design being subsequently cancelled. In order to avoid court proceedings and costs, we therefore recommend a thorough search for prior - registered, but also unregistered - rights before filing a design application.

You can find out whether a specific design is valid in Austria in the customer center or on see.ip. For this, you must at least know the owner’s name of the design.

You can search for existing Austrian designs in the monthly Musteranzeiger. For Community designs, the European Union Intellectual Property Office offers a database, for searching international designs, WIPO.