FAQ Patents - General

I have an idea – what do I do now? 

In order to make the most out of your idea you should obtain exclusive rights to it. This prohibits others from commercially exploiting your idea If you have a good idea, it is recommended that you try to find out whether the idea already exists. There are many ways to do this, among them a Google search, contacting the patent database www.esp@cenet.com or visiting certain exhibitions related to your trade. Of course, EP&C can also do this for you. Thorough preliminary investigations prevent unnecessary costs for patent applications.

What is a patent?

A patent provides an exclusive right to exploit an invention, new technical knowledge, or the improvement of a product. In other words: the inventor/developer of a technical solution to a certain problem can be granted a patent. With a patent the inventor/developer becomes the owner of his invention, so to speak.

Why should I apply for a patent?

By owning the exclusiverights to a technical solution by means of a patent, third parties may only use that solution with your permission. A patent can therefore be quite lucrative.

We are in the concept phase. When do I have to start thinking about obtaining a patent?

It is never too early to start thinking about protecting your intellectual property. The earlier you think about protection – and about potential competitors– the earlier you can determine which development direction is the most attractive to you.

How long is a patent valid?

In principle, a Dutch patent is valid for a maximum of 20 years after filing of the application. You are usually required to pay renewal fees to maintain a patent.

Who grants a patent?

A patent is granted by a national patent office, which in the Netherlands, is the Netherlands Patent Office (Octrooicentrum Nederland). For Europe, this is the European Patent Office.

What is a patent application?

A patent application is a request to secure an invention. A patent application clearly and elaborately describes in detail the invention and constitutes the basis for the scope of protection.

How is the scope of protection of a patent determined?

Patent rights are formulated in claims. The wording of a claim defines how the patent applies to a device, method of operation or use. When interpreting the patent’s scope of protection, not only the literal wording of the claim is taken into account, but also its equivalents.

Which information should I collect in order to have a patent application written?

Before writing a patent application, at first it advisable to obtain a clear understanding of what already exists, the so-called “prior art”. It is also advisable to provide at least one embodiment according to the invention. This is best done in consultation with your patent attorney.

Is it possible to get a global patent?

No, a global patent does not exist. The filing of patent applications in various countries is always a strategic choice. Each patent is related to a certain territory, therefore patent applications are filed per country or region. Many reasons influence the choice of the applicant, like the market area and the place of production.

How much does a patent cost?

The costs for a patent application differ for each subject, and include the fee of the patent attorney, handling costs and fees associated with the governmental agencies granting the patent. Depending on the complexity of the invention, the costs usually are between €4.000 and €8.000.

EP&C, Postbus 3241, 2280 GE RIJSWIJK, tel (070) 414 54 54, fax (070) 414 54 99, http://www.epc.nl