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Sometimes a patent offers the best protection for your intellectual property. A patent is an exclusive right that protects your invention in respect of a technical product or process. If you have invented something, you can apply for a patent. Whoever owns 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. Each patent is valid in one 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
To apply for a patent in the Netherlands, you must have devised a technical invention that complies with three (3) material conditions. It is up to you to decide whether to apply for a patent, and when to do so. This should involve a careful assessment of the risks and costs. It is sensible to conduct research to find out if there is a market for your invention. This will prevent you from investing a lot of time and money in your invention only to find out later that no one wants to buy your product. You will then be unable to recover the costs that you have incurred. If you do apply for a patent for your invention, your name will be given to the patent as both the applicant and the inventor. If the invention is brought on the market and proves to be a success, all revenue from it will accrue to you. All patent applications are published.
Patents are territorial and must be filed in each country where protection is sought. International patent applications can be submitted to the European Patent Office (EPO), the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) or the individual national offices of the countries in which you want to apply for a patent. When applying for a patent, you may choose from various options:
Please take the following 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 as yet, may do so in the future. Market research should be carried out 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.
If you apply for a patent in the Netherlands first, you will have one year in which to file the same application in other countries. The filing date for the original Dutch application will then 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. If you 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. No-one applies for a patent in all the countries of the world, as this would be far too expensive.
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 you €25, which must be paid within 3 months.
Cost Calculator for the protection of Intellectual Property
The Netherlands Patent Office and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property have developed a tool to help you calculate the cost of registering your patent, design or trademark in the Netherlands and other countries, the Cost Calculator for the protection of Intellectual Property. Click this link to start the IP Cost Calculator.