Checklist: protecting a product, service or invention

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Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you have an idea for a new product, service or invention? You will want to protect it. After all, you do not want someone else to cash in on your idea. If your idea is original, you can take the following steps to protect your idea before bringing it to market.

1. Is your idea original?

First, find out if your idea for a product, service or invention does not already exist. Do this before developing the idea further. Does your product already exist? There is no point in going ahead with your idea, or in trying to register your IP rights, if someone else has beaten you to it. There are several ways to investigate:

  • You can use several databases to check whether a trade name or design already exists, or an invention has been patented.
  • Search for similar ideas online and in shops. Your product or invention may already be for sale.
  • Go to trade shows and browse (online) magazines and literature to find new products and services.

2. Perform market research

You have established that you are the only one working on your idea. But what if that is due to a lack of demand for it? Will people want to buy your product or service? Market research can help you find the answer to that.

3. Do not develop your idea yet, register it first

Are you waiting to develop your idea? Or does it take a while to work it out? IP rights only come into play after you have developed your idea. But you can register your idea in an i-DEPOT. The i-DEPOT stores your idea and dates it.This gives you proof that you came up with it and on what date.

4. You develop your idea: register your IP

Intellectual Property, or IP rights, is the container name for the right to new, developed ideas. You can protect your product or service with several IP rights. For example, a product with a novel technique and new design. You can protect that legally by taking out a patent for that technique. See the different types of IP rights.

Note: If you live in the Netherlands, you will come across the word octrooi instead of ‘patent’. There is no difference between these two words, they mean exactly the same thing.

5. Use a Non-Disclosure Agreement

Would you like to share your idea with, for example, investors or staff? But have you not recorded or registered your idea yet? Then use a confidentiality statement (also called a non-disclosure agreement or NDA) to keep the information secret. Or conclude a cooperation agreement (in Dutch).

If you undertake this kind of action to protect your company secrets, they will be protected by the Trade Secret Protection Act (Wet bescherming bedrijfsgeheimen, Wbb). If anybody steals or reveals your company secrets, you can take them to court.

6. Market your idea

Once you have taken all the necessary steps to protect your product or service, it’s time to market it. See the steps to introduce a product on the Dutch market.

You can also license your product. This gives someone permission to make and market the product. You can request a fee for this.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO