Checking for existing patents in force is easy (and free) if you use the UK Intellectual Property Office's (UKIPO) patent databases which are accessible online. The new databases replace the Patents Journal and are designed to make obtaining information sought a quicker process.
The first of the databases contains current UK patents that are open to licensing agreements.
The second database contains patents that are no longer in force.
Using the databases will allow businesses to look for commercial opportunities, such as patents which they may be able to exploit for themselves if they can reach an agreement with the owner of the patent, or patents which have effectively come into ‘free use’ by expiring.
In addition, patent applications that are filed but not yet published will be able to be examined online within a few weeks of filing.
The UKIPO has also launched an anti-counterfeiting and piracy toolkit for businesses.