With the increasing role of knowledge and technology in the various aspects of human life, mainly in various industries and economic sectors, the use of different intellectual property systems to protect the intellectual and intangible assets of companies has been accompanied by a significant increase. This growing acceptance has led to an ocean of intellectual property rights around the world that make them very difficult to monitor and search for.
Various types of IP databases had been launched by national and international intellectual property authorities to facilitate the search of relevant documents. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), as one of the most important organizations, has launched a collection of the largest intellectual property databases, in order to its wide range of activities and global responsibility for registering and publishing PCT applications, trademarks, and industrial designs.
Given the importance of knowledge about intellectual property databases, in this article, we will briefly introduce various databases of WIPO and explain how to use them.
What are IP Databases?
IP plays a pivotal role at the center of the innovation–growth nexus. It promotes innovation by incentivizing investment in knowledge-based assets and encouraging the diffusion of knowledge across the economy.
Alongside the protection of intellectual property as the main function of IP systems, incentivizing innovation based on disclosed information, especially in the patent systems, is another function of IP systems. Users can use disclosed information for new innovations and the development of existing products by referring to the current patent documents, registered industrial designs, trademarks and even copyrights. At the same time, consider the restrictions related to registering new cases (such as a trademark that has already been registered by competitors and can't be registered again).
But the search for the currently registered IP rights is difficult, whether for new research and development purposes or for exploring the feasibility of new rights to be registered.
Imagine that as an investor, you need to find patent documents related to a specific electronic device. It would be very complicated if there was not a particular search database. Some reasons for its complication are: various patent systems that patents have been registered on them; different languages of those documents; and moreover, assuming you are fluent in different languages and you are familiar with different patent systems, now how to access these documents? In addition to these restrictions, the huge amount of patent documents which is growing day by day (more than 3 million applications filed in 2018) make it very difficult to find one or more specific patents.
What is the solution to this problem and how we could find patents or other IP rights? How to access these documents?
There are some intellectual property databases that could help us to access registered IP assets. The Intellectual property offices in different countries or regional intellectual property systems (such as the European Patent Office (EPO)), have normally organized different databases to sort and archive the IP assets registered in them.
There are many IP database providers, including PATENTSCOPE (Patent Database of World Intellectual Property Organization), Espacenet (European Patent Database), and Global Design Database. (Industrial Design Database of the World Intellectual Property Organization) are among them.
It should be noted that alongside databases of national and international intellectual property systems, there are also some platforms provided by private companies that offer their free or customized services to users. Google Patent is one of the most popular databases; A database that, due to Google's advanced technology and its powerful search engine, provides free access to the patents of many national systems as well as PCT filings for applicants.
Databases of the World Intellectual Property Organization
The World Intellectual Property Organization, one of the most important international organizations in the field of intellectual property, was established by a convention signed on July 14, 1967, entitled "Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization". WIPO currently has 193 member states and administrate 26 international treaties, including the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Lisbon Treaty, and the Madrid Protocol.
The WIPO introduces itself: "WIPO provides a global policy forum, where governments, intergovernmental organizations, industry groups, and civil society come together to address evolving intellectual property (IP) issues. Our member states and observers meet regularly in the various WIPO Committees and decision-making bodies. Their challenge is to negotiate the changes and new rules needed to ensure that the international IP system keeps pace with the changing world, and continues to serve its fundamental purpose of encouraging innovation and creativity."
The key objectives of the organization are:
· To promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world by harmonization of national laws;
· To offer cooperation to States requesting legal-technical assistance in the field of IP;
· To collect and disseminate information concerning the protection of intellectual property.
One of the key objectives of WIPO is to distribute "IP" data through the launch of global databases. The latest WIPO strategic document, which contains the Strategic Plan for WIPO for 2016-202, has provided nine key goals for WIPO development activities; among them, "Coordination and Development of Global IP Infrastructure" and "World Reference Source for IP Information and Analysis" are related to the development of databases.
In the following paragraphs, we will overview the most important databases of the World Intellectual Property Organization:
Industrial design is one of the intellectual property types that is protected in various IP systems. In a legal sense, an industrial design refers to the ornamental aspect of an article and consists of three-dimensional features or two-dimensional features, such as shapes, patterns, lines, or color. An industrial design can be considered as one of the key factors to attract consumers that lead to them choose one product over the other. This has led to the protection of industrial designs as a very important subject under intellectual property rights.
Like patents, trademarks, and copyrights, Industrial designs are widely used by individuals and companies, and therefore their protection is very important. However, industrial designs have a limited scope of protection and if an individual or company applies to a wide range of geographical locations (geographical coverage), seeking protection for each of them is difficult and money and time-consuming. Yp address this issue, the "Hague Agreement" was adopted to increase coordination and facilitate the international registration of industrial designs.
The main purpose of the Hague Agreement is to facilitate protection for industrial designs, simultaneously seeking IP protection in a large number of countries. The Hague system allows registration of up to 100 designs in 70 territories by means of a single application.
Due to the acceptance of The Hague system and the vast number of designs registered by individuals and companies, the World Intellectual Property Organization has launched a database to facilitate search and access to the documents, called the Global Design Database. This database enables the free and simultaneous searches of more than 11,180,000 industrial designs registered in The Hague system through the WIPO office or the National Intellectual Property Office.
Search and analyze data will be very simple for users due to analytics tools including graphical analysis, customizable results as well as available filters for searching. The system has options to download a report of the first 100 results in PDF, XML, XLS, or HTM. However, WIPO emphasizes that it is not allowed to automatically download the dataset and redistribute it for personal use in order to agreements with the National Intellectual Property Offices. To access the database click this link.
A trademark is a distinctive mark for a particular product or service offered by one undertaking (individual, group, or company) and allows customers to identify products or services of this particular source from those of others.
The registration of trademarks, which can include a word, letter, numerals, figurative elements, shape, drawing, or a combination of them, has been increased by the development of global products and services and increasing competition. Interestingly, even in some countries, the new trademark forms such as three-dimensional signs, sounds and slogans, and even scents can be registered.
The World Intellectual Property Organization has taken two major steps to register trademarks and facilitate related processes. The first, the ratification of the Madrid System in accordance with two treaties (the Madrid Agreement and the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement) which enables the protection of a trademark in a large number of member states by providing filing an international application and obtaining an international registration certificate. With over 1.3 million trademarks registered, the Madrid System is the top choice for international trademark registration, especially among export-oriented brand owners. The most important advantages of the Madrid system include the ability to file in the system using only one language, cost-effectiveness, time-saving due to its shortened registration and protection process, jurisdictions coverage, and trademark portfolio management.
Alongside the Madrid system, WIPO has tried to facilitate users' access to data of global registered trademark. One of those efforts is the launch of the Trademark Database Portal which provides easier access to online data from national and regional intellectual property offices. The offices have launched trademark databases on the online platforms and made them available to users through their websites. Aiming to easier access and preventing disruption to search, the World Intellectual Property Organization has provided the links of all its online databases in a centralized manner where users can use them easily for searching the marks.
Obviously, before filing a trademark application in the Madrid system, a thorough and comprehensive search should be undertaken. To access this valuable database, you can click the link.
3. Global Brand Database
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has launched a Global Brand Database to help trademark applicants, accessing more than 42,460,000 records from some 55 national and international collections.
The first step in searching is identifying a similar mark on related goods or services through the use of a database. you can search for trademarks, appellations of origin, and other state emblems protected in different countries around the world, as well as names, abbreviations, and emblems of intergovernmental organizations (owned or associated with two or several different governments). To access this valuable database, you can click the link.
4.Patent Database (PATENTSCOPE)
A patent system is a tool for protecting intellectual property, especially inventions and technological advances, that gives inventors and owners of intellectual property the right to prevent others from exploiting a patented invention or technology. Applicants can file patent applications at the national or regional patent offices. But what if the applicant wants to obtain patent protection in a wide range of countries?
The first solution is to file separate patent applications (according to the Paris Convention) and seek protection procedures that are costly and complex and takes a lot of time. The alternate path is to use the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The Patent Cooperation Treaty is a multilateral treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization that allows patents to be registered in a large number of countries through a single application. This procedure consists of two main phases, national and international phases, the applications filed in the national offices, or the WIPO office, all are published by WIPO. The "PATENSCOPE" database aiming at publishing "PCT" applications started its informative application and nowadays is not limited to only the PCT applications and covered many publications from different country offices.
It is worth mentioning that in this free database, it is possible to search for patent files by entering keywords, names of applicants, inventors, and international patent classifications and search tools can even be used in several different languages. To access this database, just click on this link.
5. WIPO Lex Database
WIPO Lex is a global database that provides free access to the legal information on intellectual property, including treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization, other international IP-related treaties, and IP laws and regulations of WIPO member countries and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
This database provides over 15,000 legal documents as the main document of modern intellectual property law, the most important of which include the national laws of 200 countries in the fields of copyright, industrial design, patents, trademarks, geographical indications, etc. other legal documents of "WIPO Lex" include another type of IP related international agreements, bilateral and multilateral, Which has made the database a unique resource for better understanding of intellectual property systems in the present age.
To access this valuable database, you can click this link.