This glossary defines product features and common terms that you might see as you're using Discovery.
An introductory paragraph in a patent that provides a concise summary of the invention.
Email alerts in Discovery can help you track the latest developments within relevant areas of interest. For example, if you create an email alert for a specific technology area or company, you will receive emails whenever we find matching search results. For more details on how to create and manage email alerts in Discovery, see Manage your email alerts.
The assignee is the organization or entity that holds the rights conferred by a patent.
A citation of an earlier patent in a patent document.
The claims explain the extent, or the scope, of the protection conferred by a patent, or the protection sought in a patent application.
A full explanation of the invention. It will often include background information on the invention, how it is made and its intended uses.
A design patent covers the configuration or shape of an article, or ‘ornamental features.’ Solid lines in the drawings are the claimed features of the shape. Broken lines in the drawings show what the rest of the object might look like.
The European Patent Office (EPO) is the patent office for Europe. EPO supports innovation, competitiveness and economic growth across Europe.
In addition to the patent document itself, there are numerous documents that are created during the application process, such as documents prepared by the examiner, summaries of interviews or other correspondence. The file wrapper is an electronic folder that contains these supporting documents that may, for example, be called upon in the event of any legal dispute.
When a patent is referenced by a subsequent application document.
This is when an application becomes a granted patent, meaning that the patent is in force.
A design process used for products that will be manufactured via mass production methods.
The International Patent Documentation (INPADOC) is an international collection of patent documents produced and maintained by the European Patent Office. The INPADOC database contains patent families and legal status information, and is updated weekly.
An International Patent Documentation (INPADOC) family refers to a set of patent documents filed in different countries that cover the same or similar technical content. The INPADOC grouping of patent families is produced and maintained by the European Patent Office.
Intellectual Property Rights
These can include trade secrets, utility models, patents , trademarks, geographical indications, industrial designs, layout designs of integrated circuits, copyright and related rights, and new varieties of plants.
Patent documents are often wrapped up in technical and legal jargon making them difficult to find using keywords alone. To make searching easier, each patent application is classified according to its technical features. The most widely used patent classification scheme is the International Patent Classification (IPC), which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Office.
The IPC is a hierarchical patent classification system. At its highest level, the IPC divides technology into 8 broad sections, which are each progressively subdivided into more refined levels called classes, subclasses, groups and subgroups. There are approximately 70,000 different IPC codes, each relating to a distinct technical field.
For instance, one of the IPC codes for the original "toy building brick" patent (more commonly known as the Lego brick) is A63H 33/04 which sits within:
- Section A labeled “Human Necessities"
- Class A63 labeled "Sports; Games; Amusements"
- Subclass A63H labeled "Toys, e.g. Tops, Dolls, Hoops, Building Blocks"
- Main group A63H 33/00 labeled "Other toys [2006.01]"
- Subgroup A63H 33/04 labeled "Building blocks, strips, or similar building parts [2006.01]
Mergers and acquisitions. Describes a business transaction in which two legal business entities become a single entity. In the case of an acquisition, this generally involves the parent company buying and taking ownership of the stock, equity or assets of the target company. Meanwhile, in a merger, two organisations join together to form a new business.
For a concept to be classified as an invention, it must be completely new with no evidence that it has ever been described before.
Non-patent literature. Refers to literature that is relevant to innovation or the patent prosecution procedure, for example to determine novelty. This could include research papers, publications or scientific journals, among others.
A patent is a legal title that gives inventors the right, for a limited period of usually 20 years, to prevent others from making, using, selling their invention without their permission in countries for which the patent has been granted. For an invention to be patentable, it must be new, inventive, susceptible of industrial application, and must not fall into an excluded category (e.g. works of art, scientific theories, mathematical models, and the presentation of information). A patentable invention is usually directed to a product, apparatus, process or use, which embodies a technical innovation. A product can contain a number of inventions. For example, a computer can involve hundreds of inventions, working together.
Patent application date
The patent application date is the date upon which the patent office receives a patent application.
To make searching easier, patent applications are classified. A classification scheme is a system of codes that groups patent documents based on their technical features.
Patent classification makes it possible to retrieve information on existing knowledge or "prior art" related to specific technology areas. Such retrieval is needed by patent-issuing authorities, potential inventors, research and development units, and others interested in the application or development of technology. The most widely used patent classification scheme is the International Patent Classification (IPC), which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Office.
A patent family refers to a patent that has filed in several jurisdictions in order to protect a single invention in multiple countries. The original document filed is known as the priority document, and it is then extended to other patent offices. This then becomes the patent family.
Patent legal status
The legal status of a patent or patent application refers to the entries made or steps taken during the patent-granting process and throughout the lifetime of the patent. Patent legal status data can give a good indication of which technology is still protected and where, or whether it will soon become freely available and enter the public domain. A list of worldwide legal status codes, contents and coverage can be found on the European Patent Office's site.
Patent Publication date
The date on which a patent application is published and enters the public domain for the first time.
The relationship map is a visual diagram in the Discovery platform that shows the connections between different entities and people.
While "assignee" represents the owners of patent as they are written on patent documents, naming conventions for the same entity often differ across documents (for example IBM can be I.B.M, or IBM Inc., or IBM Consulting, or International Business Machines). Standardized assignee is a single naming convention used to describe the same patent owner, across different patent documents. For example, all patent documents with the assignee names "I.B.M., or IBM Inc., or IBM Consulting, or International Business Machines", are assigned the standardized owner "IBM".
A patent title should convey to the user of patent documents a first impression of the main content of the invention.
Used in select jurisdictions such as Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea (among others), the idea of a utility model patent is to cover an incremental improvement to a product, process or machine in those cases where such an improvement does not warrant a full patent. The term is much shorter than that of a standard patent and varies by jurisdiction.
Venture Capital. Financing provided by investors to start-up organizations or small businesses, to drive growth.
The World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) is a self-funded UN agency with 189 member states. WIPO provides a global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation.