Patent documents: a valuable source of technical information
Regardless of the outcome of the examination procedure, patent applications are an important source of technical information published 18 months after the first filing. Granted patents are also published at the end of a positive examination procedure and usually upon payment of a corresponding fee. The availability of the patent documents content is an essential element of the patent system and it constitutes a fair balance to the exclusive rights granted to a patent holder over an invention. The obligation to publicly disclose complete information about newly developed inventions, for which protection is sought, warrants continuous development of science and technology (1).
Patent documents published in different countries but relating to the same invention are generally called a patent family. Patent documents pertaining to the same family are frequently in a number of different languages, so that the reader has the opportunity to choose (when available) the document in a familiar language. However, at least a machine translation or an abstract in English are generally available.
For the first time in 2016, more than 3 million pa ...