Check if your product idea already exists
- Henk Herkink
- 12 Sept 2021
- Edited 14 Feb 2023
- 2 min
You want to introduce an innovative product. Perhaps you already have an idea for a new product. Before you invest time and money in developing your idea, check if your product idea already exists. In patent databases you can check whether your idea is really new.
Avoid patent breach
Sometimes, someone else beats you to it. They had the same idea as you, and were the first to patent it. With their patent, this person has the exclusive right to develop and market the idea. If you develop your idea anyway, you breach the owner’s patent and risk a legal summons from the patent owner. Your investments will have been a waste of time and money.
View existing patents to understand the market’s needs
Patents are only awarded to products that are original, innovative, and applicable. But for what purpose are the products used? Could the product or application serve another purpose? For instance, for a different problem in another sector? There may be an opportunity for you. Browsing through the patent database also shows you what your competitors are working on. And which new technologies are being developed. It will help you confirm whether or not your product delivers that little something extra.
You can search a patent database yourself. It is relatively easy to do, for example using Espacenet. This free database offers access to 120 million patent publications worldwide. The Netherlands Patent Office, part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO, regularly organises workshops on the possibilities of patents and Espacenet searches.
There are other registers and databases you can use to search for patents. See the Netherlands Patent Office website for more information.
Save time and take over an existing patent
There are many patents. Not all of them are in active use. You may be able to take over an existing patent, that is interesting for your product development. That way, you can save on development time, and your idea is automatically protected. Interested? Many patent databases offer information about whether or not a patent is up for licensing. If it is, you can enter into a licensing agreement with the patent holder. The patent holder remains the owner, and you are given permission to produce, sell, or use the invention as a licensee. Read more about licensing a patent on the Netherlands Patent Office website.
Another way to find a product idea that is ready for take-off is to participate in the TNO project ‘Technology seeks Entrepreneurs’. This knowledge institute actively showcases its inventions. Businesses can register to further develop and market one or more of these ideas.
New market insights with existing patents
Searching the patent database also gives you insight into what your competitors are doing. And you can see which new technologies are available. Patents only apply to inventions that are new, inventive and industrially applicable. You can see what new inventions are used for. Maybe they also offer a solution for a completely different problem. That might give you an opportunity. For example, as a solution to a different problem in a different sector.
More information about applying for a patent?
Do you want to know more about patent databases, or about applying for a patent? Or do you want to consult an advisor about your idea? Contact the KVK by phone: (+31) 0 88 585 22 22, or fill in the contact form. We will be happy to advise you and put you in touch with the right RVO experts, for example for conducting a preliminary patent research.