Chemical & Processing
Oil & Gas
Pharma Biotech
Infrastructure & Design

Early Finders could Become Inventors and IP Owners
- Dr Gopakumar Nair, CEO & Andreya Fernandes, Legal and Patent Law Associate
Patent literature is a rich source of technological information relating products and processes. According to Thompson Reuters, ä80 per cent of all available technical information is published in patents and often nowhere elseë. Scientists, researchers, lawyers and students do conduct search for various reasons which are highlighted herein. Lately, searches have become highly relevant, not only for scientific pursuits but also for due diligence to avoid potential litigations, Dr Gopakumar Nair, CEO & Andreya Fernandes, Legal and Patent Law Associate of Gopakumar Nair Associates write.

Most searches are known as Prior Art Searches. ┬Prior Art╩ is any ┬body of knowledge╩ relating to the research that existed prior (same or similar) to the completion of the research or the filing of a patent application. It includes, knowledge, oral or otherwise in printed publications, e g books, journals, technical reports, patents, or public discussions anywhere in the world. Researchers and process development chemists and engineers carry out searches most often for deciding cost-effective, ecofriendly, non-infringing or work-around routes and steps processes.

Post Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) searches are being done more often for patentability determination through search for anticipatory prior art documents (for arriving are novelty), and general searches for obviousness to arrive at potential inventiveness in the invention on hand. Searches are also done to find competitors, potential alliance partners, potential clients for product on offer and to conclude licensing opportunities (in-licensing as well as out-licensing). Prior art search before commencing a project helps prevent 'reinventing the wheel.' A single exact prior art document if found on search, destroys novelty of the invention, while multiple prior art documents in mosaic form, if it teaches, suggests or motivates the invention, kills the 'inventiveness'.

Patent searches are done in many ways. Most often ┬key word╩ search is employed. Name search or classification (IPC) search as well as legal status search (for patent validity, maintenance, expiry etc) are the other modes of search. Patent number or patent application number based searchers are often done using country codes with numbers. Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) searches are mostly done on the WIPO search site (http://patentscope.wipo.int/ search/en/structuredSearch.jsf). The PCT applications are published on WIPO site as ┬WO/xxxx/xxxxxx╩ (Ex. WO/2013/057735). The most popular site for general patent search for all countries, including WO (WIPO) is 'Espacenet' (worldwide.espacenet.com).

While there are free sites such as USPTO (http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/ search/index.jsp), WIPO, Indian Patent Database- IPAIRS (http://ipindiaservices. gov.in/patentsearch/search/index.aspx), free patents on-line, Google Patent search etc. Further, there are also very large numbers of paid or subscribed patent databases such as Delphion, Patentweb, Derwent, Aureka MicroPatent, etc.

Chemicals often land up becoming pharmaceuticals, pesticides or food additives. Once an New Chemical Entity (NCE) is found to be pharmacologically and clinically active, World Health Organization (WHO) gives a name to it, which is called International Nonproprietary Name (INN). This is the generic name of a new drug. However, since patent applications are filed with the chemical name and often under ┬Markush structure', it is difficult for these chemical-based patents or patent applications to come up when searched by generic name of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) or dosage form thereof. To overcome this problem, the Indian Patent Office has made a proposal that all patent applications/specifications must indicate or use the INN (generic name) of the molecule to enable effective searching. Opinion/ views of the users/stakeholders were invited by the Indian Patent Office.