Search existing IP overseas

Before applying for an intellectual property (IP) right in another country, you need to check if your trade mark, invention, design or plant variety already exists.  

If you find something similar to your idea or invention in your target market, it can be tricky to secure IP protection. In some cases, if the invention or product is already publicly available somewhere in the world, you can't protect it with an IP right.

Your search should include:

  • The internet, including Google Patents and social media
  • IP search databases, both Australian and international.

Be sure to search as widely as possible. If the idea, invention or product has been published on a website, social media profile or even in an old blog, it may impact your ability to protect it.

  • Trade marks
  • Patents
  • Design rights
  • Plant breeder's rights

Trade marks

Before you apply for a trade mark, you'll need to search for any trade marks registered for similar goods and services in your target country.

You can search most databases by:

  • Word
  • Phrase
  • Image
  • Owner
  • Classes of goods and services.

Search the Australian database

Get started by searching the Australian Trade Mark Search for registered and pending trade marks.

How to search trade marks  Australian Trade Mark Search

Search the target country's database

If you know where you'd like to protect your trade mark, you can search the country's relevant IP databases. If you can't find one or if you need help, you can contact the local IP office for more guidance.

Search the Global Brand Database

Use the Global Brand Database, which is supported by more than 70 countries and international bodies, to search text or images in brand data from multiple sources, including trade marks, appellations of origin and official emblems.

Global Brand Database

Search Madrid Monitor

Madrid Monitor allows you to access details of international applications and registrations made through the Madrid System. Containing over 45 million trade marks filed from more than 100 member countries, you can search by words, numbers, dates, countries and classes.

Madrid Monitor

Search TMview

Containing trade marks from across the European Union and parts of Africa, Asia, America and Oceania, TMview lets you make detailed searches by word, numbers, dates, countries and classes.

TMview

Patents

You'll need to make sure that your patent is new and inventive before you apply for protection.

You can search most databases by:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Applicant
  • Inventor
  • Priority date.

Search the Australian database

You can search the Australian Patent Search (AusPat) for patent applications and grants filed here in Australia.

How to search patents  Australian Patent Search (AusPat)

Search the target country's database

You can search the country's relevant IP databases for similar patents. Contact the local IP office for help if you have trouble finding or accessing the database.

Search Patentscope

Patentscope contains over 105 million patent results, including details of 4 million international applications made through the Patent Cooperation System (PCT). You can search by title, abstract, name, filing date and more.

Patentscope

Get help with your search

As an international search authority, we can conduct an expert search of prior art documents around the world. This is known as an international type search.

Total cost: $950

Great for:

  • Anyone planning to protect a patent overseas.

How it works:

  • We search the claims of your provisional application or the subject matter you provide
  • Our search is at the same level of detail as examining PCT applications, so you'll have comprehensive results
  • You'll receive a report identifying any inventions similar to yours within six weeks.

Key things to know:

  • Can be requested once you've filed a provisional application with us. We'd suggest you make the request no later than 10 months after filing your provisional application. This gives you enough time to consider the results before deciding whether to file an application
  • You may be entitled to a partial refund of the search cost if you go on to file a PCT application based on your provisional.

Request via online services

Design rights

Your design must be new and distinctive in the market. You'll need to search for any publicly shared designs to see if there are any similar to yours.

The search shouldn't be limited to IP databases  you'll need to search the internet and social media for anything similar to your design.

You can search most databases by:

  • Image
  • Product name
  • Classification
  • Number
  • Owner.

In addition to design databases, you can also check trade mark and patent databases for images. Any similar results could be relevant even if they're not registered as a design right.

Search the Australian database

The Australian Design Search is a good place to start your search. You can find design applications and registrations filed in Australia.

How to search design rights  Australian Design Search

Search the target country's database

Search your target country's design database for applications and registrations currently protected in the market. If you need help to access or use the database, reach out to the local IP office for assistance.

Search the Global Design Database

The Global Design Database is a worldwide collection of designs data, made up of Hague registrations and designs from participating offices. You can search by description, name, applicant, dates and country.

Global Design Database

Search DesignView

DesignView allows you to search designs from across the European Union and parts of Africa, Asia, America and Oceania. You can search by name, number, designer, Locarno classification, filing date and country.

DesignView

Plant breeder's rights

Check if your plant variety is new to the market before you apply to protect it.

You can search most databases by:

  • Common name
  • Genus
  • Species
  • Title holder
  • Timeframe.

You can also use the internet to search for similar varieties.

Search the Australian database

The Australian Plant Breeder's Rights database contains details of pending and existing plant breeder's rights filed in Australia.

How to search plant breeder's rights  Australian Plant Breeder's Rights Search

Search the target country's database

Search for the published variety description in the country's database. You can contact the local IP office or relevant authority if you need help to access or use the database.

Search the PLUTO Plant Variety database

The PLUTO Plant Variety database provides name results for plant varieties protected by members of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) and other international organisations. You'll need a user account to access PLUTO.

PLUTO Plant Variety Database

Conduct a trade mark search

You'll need to check that the proposed name of your variety hasn't already been registered as a trade mark. Be sure to search trade marks protected in classes relevant to plant varieties, such as Class 31 in Australia.

Need help?

Conducting your own search will give you an idea of what IP rights already exist. However, it can be complex and time consuming to search the internet and all relevant databases for your idea or invention.

We recommend engaging an IP attorney to help you. The cost of their services will depend on the complexity of the search and time involved.

Engage an IP professional