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Blog | EP&C explains the most frequently asked questions

EP&C explains the most frequently asked questionsEP&C has 10 qualities that make us unique which is why our clients like to work with us. In a series of blogs we explain more about these qualities. This is #4 in the series: we explain.

Even though patent law is rather complex we want our clients to have a basic understanding of what it is we are doing for them. So a major part of our job consists of explaining things. Anyone can ask questions by e-mail or via the chat function on our website and they will get a response from us within one working day. Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions and, of course, the answers.

1. When can I apply for a patent? What is the point of protecting my invention with a patent?

You can apply for a patent on a technical invention that is novel and not obvious. Many of the inventors I speak to appear to set the bar very high for themselves when it comes to this. This is not always justified. Think, for example, of the well-known rusk indentation, which is a great invention!

With a patent you can stop others from commercially using your invention. Many inventors wrongly believe that it is complex and expensive to
prevent their competitors from doing so. Expensive court cases, lengthy processes, and a lot of administrative work. But did you know that only a very small percentage of all infringement disputes end up in court?

A patent has a preventive effect and automatically acts as a deterrent. It creates a barrier to counterfeiting, as it were. It is a reward for your development work and prevents others from making off with your work by simply copying it. It strengthens your market position and provides security for further investments. For start-ups, for example, patent protection is an important condition for investors to step in.

A patent can also offer a strategic advantage in other situations. It is therefore well worth considering patenting your innovation, especially when you know that infringements can often be solved by simply writing to your competitor. Always consider how a patent can strengthen your position. We will be pleased to help you with this.

2. I have recently seen something that has not been patented, can I patent it?

Unfortunately we have to disappoint people who ask this question. It is only possible to obtain a patent on inventions that are novel. If information about the innovation has already been published somewhere, it is no longer novel.

You will no longer be able to protect it in that case, but if the innovation has not been patented in the Netherlands, you can still bring to market and sell the product in the Netherlands.

If it concerns one of your own inventions, there may still be some options for getting patent or design protection. Another approach would be to come up with an innovative additional development of the existing product and to protect that.

In this blog you can read how to recognise an invention or ask a patent attorney about your chances. 

3. Is there any point in applying for a patent if I don't do so across the globe and they simply copy my innovation in China?

It is generally not advisable to apply for patents worldwide. Fortunately, it is also not necessary to do so. Nevertheless, the choice of countries is an important one and depends on a variety of different factors. Generally speaking you will not have to make this choice right away: in the patent system, you can start small and expand to other countries at a later stage. You can read more about the choice of countries in this blog.

Incidentally, it is a misconception that they are not bothered about patents in China. Nowadays a lot of innovations are taking place in China as well and these are being patented. Right now, 7% of all patent applications in Europe come from China. Another consequence of this is that China also has an increasingly strong patent system.

On top of that, it may not be a bad thing if your invention is being copied in other countries. After all, a patent not only protects against the production, but also against the sale of your invention. It may therefore be an effective strategy to just protect it in your own and your competitors' most important markets.

4. Patents are very expensive, aren't they? Is it really worth getting one?

The costs of a patent very much depend on your particular situation. For large companies it is often worthwhile getting very comprehensive protection with several patent applications and a combination of design protection and patent protection in numerous countries. However it is possible to apply many different strategies. Protection can also be worthwhile even when you have a smaller budget.

If the appearance of your invention is important, then a design right could be an interesting option, for example. For a technical innovation, the NL PCT route may be a good option. This route allows you to record your innovation quickly and at a low cost. This route also gives you time to decide in which countries to file the patent and to conduct market research. Meanwhile, your innovation is protected.

A patent attorney can advise you on the type of protection and the route you should take.

Download the brochure about the NL PCT route here

Can I register myself as a model at EP&C?

We round off with this light-hearted question which we are sometimes asked. We regularly receive photographs of aspiring models. Time for an explanation of design or model rights and design or model protection.

Design or model rights are a form of intellectual property right. A design or model right can be used to protect the appearance or the design of a newly designed item. In this case, the design or model is not someone with the ambition to walk the catwalk, but is the external design of a product that is to be protected. A company like Apple, for example, makes extensive use of this.

Check here whether your design qualifies for design or model protection.

If you have a question that does not appear in this list, please feel free to contact me. You can also chat with me or one of my colleagues on working days between 2pm and 5pm. The chat function will open automatically when you go to We are there to answer your questions.

If you are thinking about protecting your idea with a patent download the free e-book '6 times the added value of a patent'. In this you can, among other things, read when it is a good idea to apply for a patent.