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Who Owns the Patent? Top Tip from a TM attorney

Keltie LLP

K2 IP Limited

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Question MarkToday we have a little tip for anyone who has run into difficulties locating a patent or patent application that is mentioned in the context of a product being marketed under the words “patent pending”, “patented” or similar. Sometimes it is easy to locate the patent property in question because, for example, the company offering the product/service is also the patent owner. Sometimes however it can be difficult to find the correct patent property.

This may be because the company in question owns thousands of patents and patent applications (good luck for example identifying all the patent filings made in relation to the Apple Watch). However, in some cases this is because the company selling the “patented” product/service is not the patent owner.

Perhaps the patent/patent application is held by a different company in the same company group or perhaps the inventors own the patents. In such circumstances what else can be done to try and locate the patent/patent application in question?

it may be possible to perform a general search of a patent database. However, with common products there may be no easy way of telling whether any of your search hits actually relate to the product you’re looking at.

IPcopy mentioned this conundrum to a trade mark colleague in the context of a recent search which was proving fruitless and was provided with an observation and a simple suggestion:

  • The product in question was flagged as having a registered trade mark
  • Trying searching the trade mark register to see who owns the trade mark
  • Try using the trade mark owner to narrow the patent search

In the search in question this enabled the patent mentioned in the marketing materials to be located in a few minutes. It turned out that there was no link at all between the product name, the company marketing the product or the eventually identified patent owner.

So, next time you get stuck searching for the patent for a “patented” product consider looking on the trade mark register!

Mark Richardson 16 June 2015


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