What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property or IP is the collective name for rights that protect the realisations of ideas and concepts. Examples of products and services you can protect with IP rights are: music, brand names, trade names, inventions, product designs, techniques, games, software, lyrics, and photographs.
Different types of IP rights
You can protect your product or service using different types of IP rights. Some rights you have to register or deposit. Some rights are awarded automatically. Bear in mind that, when it comes to claiming your IP rights, it is always best to have a written record that states you are the owner of the IP rights of a product or service. This is true even for automatically awarded IP rights.
Rights you have to register
- Trademark right protects your trade name, company logo, brand name, product or service.
- Patent protects a technical invention.
- Design right protects a design, drawing, or model.
- Plant breeder’s right protects newly developed plant races.
Rights you automatically have and may have to register
Sometimes you do have to or can register for these rights to, for example, enforce your ownership of this IP.
- Copyright protects writings (for instance lyrics, books), photos, software, films, games and websites.
- Trade name right protects your trade name.
- Database right falls under copyright law. It protects against the re-using of data in databases.
- Semiconductor right protects semiconductors like chips and microprocessors. You need to apply for this right.
Other forms of protection
- The i-DEPOT gives your idea or design a legal date stamp.
- You can use a non-disclosure agreement (NDA, confidentiality statement) to lay down in writing the conditions under which information can be shared.
- The Trade Secret Protection Act (Wet bescherming bedrijfsgeheimen, Wbb) protects your company secrets. For instance, a unique recipe.
- To protect regional specialities, you can apply for three types of EC geographic indications of source certificates.
How do you protect your product, service or invention?
Do you want to find the best way to protect your product, service or invention? Use the ideeSCAN (in Dutch) to see which rights you need to register, and what you need to take into account. Read the Checklist for protecting your product, service or invention.
Cost Calculator for the protection of Intellectual Property
Use the Cost Calculator for the protection of Intellectual Property to find out how much taking out a patent or registering a trademark or design will cost you in the Benelux, the EU or worldwide. The Cost Calculator is a joint initiative by the Netherlands Patent Office and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property.
EU trademarks after Brexit
Do you have registered or pending EU trademarks, and is your product or service in use in the UK, or do you plan to market your product or service there? Then make sure you have the required protection in the UK. After Brexit, EU trademarks registered or granted in the EU before 1 January 2021 remain protected in the UK. But this does not apply to EU trademarks registered or granted after 1 January 2021.
For existing European Trademarks (EUTMs) that were granted by the European Union Intellectual Property Organisation (EUIPO), the UK Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) will create a comparable UK trademark. You will have to pay IPO and EUIPO separately for renewal of the new UK trademark and the existing EUTM. There will be no changes to UK-registered trademarks as a result of the UK leaving the EU.
Opting out of the comparable UK trademark
If you do not wish to have a UK trademark for your existing EUTM, you may opt out. If you do opt out, you will have no UK IP rights for your product or service. You can only use the opt-out option if you have not used the UK trademark right in the UK yet.
If you have a pending EUTM application, you can register the EU trademark as a UK right within nine months from 1 January 2021, up to and including 30 September 2021. You will keep the earlier filing date of the pending EUTM.
If you want to apply for a new trademark and you want this trademark protected in the EU and in the UK, you will need to apply for registration at both IPO and the EUIPO. UK businesses can still apply to the EU Intellectual Property Office for an EUTM.
Read more information about trademarks in the UK and Brexit on the Gov.uk website.