New National Patent Act: easier and cheaper patenting

Lowering the patent application threshold for SMEs

The Lower House of Dutch Parliament has passed an amendment to the National Patent Act that will significantly lower the threshold facing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The changes save Dutch companies a lot of hassle and expense when filing for a patent.

Major innovators like Philips file thousands of patent applications per year, but the expenses and intricacy of the patent system have always functioned as obstacles for SMEs. But according to patent attorney Nyske Blokhuis of the Rijswijk patent agency EP&C, “these new amendments will stimulate SMEs to be quicker to apply for a patent.”

Innovation vouchers

One new important incentive is the so-called innovation voucher, which can now also be used for filing a patent application. Blokhuis: “These vouchers were devised to boost collaboration between SMEs and research centres. Companies can use them to approach research centres for support. But while these vouchers have proven very popular, a large number of them are just sitting around collecting dust at the SMEs.”

This is because the vouchers also have a downside when it comes to intellectual property rights. “Small companies are hesitant, because they fear losing control of their invention,” says Blokhuis. “The objectives of research centres differ greatly from those of companies. Researchers are always looking to expose their inventions to a wide audience, and while you cannot blame them for that, exposure could diminish the novelty value of the invention and, as such, limit its chances of landing a patent."

Novelty research

SMEs can now use their innovation vouchers to file a patent application. The new amendments have also simplified the filing system for those who don’t have (or want to use) innovation vouchers, particularly on the financial side. Blokhuis: “Novelty research by the Dutch Patent Office, for example, has become considerably cheaper. That makes investing in innovation a whole lot more attractive for SMEs.”

Key amendments

  • Patent applications can now also be filed in English, which brings the system one step closer to offering a truly international patent. The patent decisions will still be given in Dutch.
  • The six-year small patent will no longer be granted. However, the fee for novelty research will drop from EUR 340 to EUR 100.
  • Innovation vouchers can now also be used for patent applications. 
  • An information campaign targeting SMEs is in the works.

SMEs can request innovation vouchers of EUR 2,500 or EUR 7,500 at

July 2007 - Technology Newspaper

  Nyske Blokhuis, M.Sc. (Dutch & European Patent Attorney
(associate partner))

EP&C, Postbus 3241, 2280 GE RIJSWIJK, tel (070) 414 54 54, fax (070) 414 54 99,