What is a patent?
A patent is an exclusive right that protects your invention. Sometimes a patent offers the best protection for your intellectual property. For instance, if you have invented a technical product or process. The owner of a patent can prohibit someone else from copying, selling or importing that invention. Even when that other person has come up with the invention himself completely independently. Patents are valid in 1 or more countries and for a limited period of time. After a patent has expired, the technique is available for use by everyone. In order to maintain a patent in the Netherlands, an annual fee must be paid to Netherlands Patent Office. The first payment is due at the start of the 4th year after the application has been filed.
Applying for a patent
It is up to you to decide whether you want to apply for a patent, and when. Is there a market for your invention? Conduct market research to find out. If there is not enough interest in your product, you ask yourself if it is worth investing time and money.
If you do apply for a patent, you will be registered as both the applicant and the inventor. All patent applications are published. If your patented product proves successful, all revenue will be for you.
Conditions to apply for a patent
You have decided to apply for a patent in the Netherlands for your technical invention. There are 3 material conditions:
- Novelty: the product or process may not have been made public anywhere in the world before the data of submitting the patent application.
- Inventive step: the invention may not be obvious to a professional.
- Industrial applicability: the invention must relate to a technically demonstrable functioning product or production process.
Register of Patent Attorneys
You apply for a patent to a patent attorney, either an independent one or one who works at a patent agency or company. You can check whether someone is a patent attorney by consulting the Register of Patent Attorneys. You can search by name or office of the patent agent, postcode, location or discipline.
International and national patents
Patents are territorial and must be filed in each country where protection is sought. When applying for a patent, you may choose from various options:
- national (the Netherlands);
- regional (Europe, for example);
- international (worldwide).
International patent applications can be submitted to:
- the European Patent Office (EPO),
- the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO),
- the individual national offices of the countries in which you want to apply for a patent.
Unitary patent application for 17 European countries
As of 1 June 2023, you can apply for a so-called unitary patent for 17 European countries. If you want to protect your invention in the 17 countries involved, you can do so by submitting 1 application. If you wish to protect your innovation in European countries that do not (yet) take part in the unitary patent, you need to apply for a European patent for those countries separately.
Take the following points into consideration before you decide in which countries to register your patent:
- Consider the countries in which there will be a market for your product. It would be wise to extend your patent to those countries. It is important to take future developments into account: a country that does not have interesting prospects now, may do so in the future. Carry out market research for this purpose.
- Consider whether you wish to continue managing production and distribution or whether you wish to outsource it. You can sell your patent, for example, or license it.
- When selling your patent, consider whether you wish to sell in one go for all countries or if you wish to decide on a country-by-country basis.
Say you apply for a patent in the Netherlands first. You then have one year in which you can file the same application in other countries. The filing date for the original Dutch application will also apply to the foreign application. You can use this period, known as the priority year, to do research on the countries that may be of commercial interest for your invention.
Do you prefer to file for a worldwide patent? You will have a year and a half to choose in which countries (30 maximum) you want to seek patent protection.
Dutch validation of a European patent
A European patent may be validated in the Netherlands by fulfilling the set translation requirements, which are:
- You must file a translation of the claims in Dutch with the Netherlands Patent Office within 3 months after the European patent is granted;
- If you filed the patent with the European Patent Office in a language other than English, you must file a translation of the description in English or in Dutch;
- Filing the translation costs €25. You must pay this within 3 months.
Cost Calculator for the protection of Intellectual Property
The Cost Calculator for the protection of Intellectual Property will help you calculate the cost of registering your patent, design or trademark in the Netherlands and other countries. It was developed by the Netherlands Patent Office and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property. Click this link to start the IP Cost Calculator.