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Patent information: Introduction to patents

Introduction to patent searching. Basic patent information as well as useful resources are included.

About this Library Guide

Information in this guide is not intended to be legal advice.

For laws and legislation, contact the appropriate patent and trademark office or KAUST Legal department.

What is a Patent?

Patent: "the right granted by a national government to exclude others from commercially exploiting such as making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention." — World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

Patent protection is enforced only in the countries where the patent has been applied for and granted and the maintenance fees have been paid.

Generally, protection can be granted for a period of up to 20 years.

Why are patents granted? Companies, universities, and other entities receive patent protection so they can recover their research and development costs. In exchange for this protection, the information about the invention must be fully disclosed to the public.

What qualifies to be patented? National patent offices rigorously review patent applications to determine whether they qualify. Generally speaking, to be patentable an invention must be:

  • New
  • Non-obvious
  • Useful and industrially applicable

Facts, concepts, and natural phenomena cannot be patented.

Why Search for Patent Information?

Patents are a rich resource that should not be overlooked:

  • An estimated 80% of the technical information in patents is never disclosed or published elsewhere.
  • Disclosure of the invention should be presented in a concise, detailed way so that anyone with average skill in the relevant field could reproduce the invention.

There are many practical applications of patent searching:

  • Find information on what has been invented before by conducting a "novelty search." This can enable you to either improve on existing inventions or direct your research to other fields. It reduces the risk of "reinventing the wheel."
  • Identify key inventors from a competitor's company.
  • Identify companies in your research area that are potential buyers, competitors, or employers.
  • Identify collaborators in your research area for joint research.

For more information, see: Why researchers should care about patents by the European Patent Office.

Intellectual Property Policy at KAUST

See details of KAUST IP Policy (which may changed from time to time by the KAUST Board of Trustees) provided by the Technology Transfer Office of KAUST Innovation and Economic Development.  

Got an Invention?

Contact the Technology Transfer Office at Economic Development for further information about funding, guidelines, and policies.