Internet sites providing free patent search facilities focus on US data. But by the summer that will begin to change when the European Patent Office launches DIPS, its distributed Internet patent services.
It will open up patent dara to a wider audience, in particular to small and medium sized companies.
National offices of EPO member states will link into DIPS via their own web sites. Links take researchers to services provided by the EPO, other member states and co-operating bodies such as the Japanese and US patent offices.
There will be no charge to search the system but fees for paper documents have yet to be set.
The EPO web site can be accessed via The Engineer online, or directly on www.european-patent-office.org/news/patinfo.