Every so often we come across a great idea and think whether it could be the base for a wonderful invention. But then, many inventions exist in this world. If you create something which you believed was “new”, yet had been patented elsewhere in the world, you would have infringed the patent. And, you would have to pay a fine for it. However, it is great if that previous patent had expired. Then, you could copy the invention and create cheaper alternatives. The lifespan of a patent, typically, would be 20 years. It varies from country to country.
The Malaysian Intellectual Property Office has a website, from which patents can be searched for a fee.
The US Patent Trademarks Office, too, may be searched. However, images are in TIFF format and require a QuickTime plugin from Apple.
And then there is the European Patent Office.
Of course, if things get boring around there, you could always look out for instructions on how to make good food. For example:
Hint: Try to search for “Pupasas” — it’s an American Indian staple.