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I want to apply for a patent, where do I start?

If you want to apply for a patent, it is necessary to do a patent search first. You could this yourself but it is advisable to seek professional assistance from your national patent office or a patent attorney. There are two different reasons to do this patent search.

The first reason is to find out whether your invention is new and inventive. Because all disclosures, publications and prior use can destroy the novelty and/or inventive step of your invention it’s important to search literature and (free) patent databases, like Espacenet. This search of already existing technical solutions is called a ‘prior art search’. It gives you insights on what is still patentable and also avoids that you apply for a patent that can easily be invalidated.

Secondly patent research is important because it allows you to check if you have ‘Freedom to Operate’. This means that you can make or sell your products without infringing the rights of others. (Potential) investors will be interested in this information as well.

Since writing a strong patent is quite complex, it is recommended to seek assistance from a patent attorney, who has the necessary technical background and specialist patent training.

But before you contact a patent attorney, you can already start to do your own research into existing patents in (free) patent databases (or with the help of your national patent office). Doing your own research before hiring professionals is a smart thing to do.