Prompt and complete information on the existence of third-party patents is vital, so that companies operating in various technological sectors can keep abreast of what IP rights are held by their competitors.

For this reason, on 2 December 2015 the new database of Italian patents was put online by the Italian Patent and Trademark Office.

The most significant news is that patent documents are now public, and not just the bibliographic information. This means that it is now possible, in real time, to read the text of any patent document to assess its importance.

Currently the database contains the files for around 22,000 granted Italian patents, covering patent applications filed from 1 July 2008.

In the database, the user can access the patent applications as originally filed, including the original patent description in Italian and in English, drawings if present, and the claims as originally filed, again both in Italian and in English.

It is also possible to access search reports with opinions on patentability, produced by the European Patent Office for the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, and also any arguments and any amendments to the patent documents (description, claims and/or drawings) filed by the owner of the patent application in response to the search report.

For each file, there is a link to the entry in the historical database of the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, which contains the bibliographic information of the patent application and any annotations or recordals, for example if the owner of the application or patent has changed.

The search engine of the new database of the Italian Patent and Trademark Office allows the user to conduct searches using keywords to locate patent documents whose descriptions and/or claims contain the specific keywords used for the search. The search engine also allows searching by classification, date of filing of the patent application, application number, name of holder/inventor etc., depending on the search needs of the user.

So now it is possible to conduct a search for Italian patents relating to a specific technological sector or a specific invention, and to identify the Italian patents of a competitor, or of a specific inventor.

The Italian Patent and Trademark Office has already announced that it will continue to add to the patent documents contained in the database.

The new database of the Italian Patent and Trademark Office therefore represents an important tool for having the most complete possible overview of existing Italian patent rights, enabling companies to develop their strategies based on accurate information, and to take any necessary action against Italian patents that could represent an obstacle to their activities.

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