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Patenting in the high-tech sector: is there any point to it? | EP&C

Octrooieren in de high tech industrie: heeft dat wel zin?

Patenting is a lengthy process. It can easily take a few years from your first idea to a granted patent. In the high-tech sector developments tend to take place at a very rapid pace. So does it make sense to patent your ideas in that sector? It certainly does. In fact, it makes perfect sense. In this blog I will explain why.

High-tech experts

EP&C has a special team of experts for innovations in the high-tech sector. It is a joy to be part of this team because all innovations in the high-tech field land on our desks first. Telecoms, lasers, blockchain, medical equipment, software, inventions at the cutting edge of multiple disciplines. We get to see it all and it is true that developments in this field are taking place at a very rapid pace.

However, this does not mean that patenting is pointless. Indeed, much of this technology builds on existing patents. So the patent that you file for a new innovation today may continue to be relevant for a very long time to come. People wrongly believe that everything in the high-tech sector is new and unique. That is certainly not the case. Most technologies have a rich and patented history.


I will explain this using an example from the telecoms sector. 2G seems to be something from a distant past now that 5G has become the standard virtually everywhere. Yet much of the technology used in 5G is based on the technologies used in 2G and 3G. The inventions that resulted in 2G have yielded patents that are still relevant today. 5G is not radically different, but builds on existing technologies. I see this across the board in the high-tech sector. Inventions usually do not stand alone, but build on something that already exists.

This also happens, for example, in the case of new features on phones. If Apple comes up with a new functionality for their iPhone it can take up to four or five years before this hits the market. That does not really matter - even in a rapidly changing industry like high tech. That is because the patented technology is already in the phones. And this technology stays relevant because it often continues to be used in newer models of phones.

Broad patent

Ideally you want a broad patent on your invention as this is the best way to keep your competitors at bay. This is quite a challenge in a rapidly developing field because so much is changing all the time. There are many players and many patents out there, which is precisely why it is important to establish your patent quickly. You want to ensure that it can still be as broad as possible.

Patenting early makes sense, especially if your innovation is new. You can then still cover the entire field. If your innovation is still at the edge of the market now in a couple of years it could end up right in the middle of it. Moreover, what may seem narrow now because it is not yet widely used may become broad later when the market grows towards the invention you have made. So patenting in time ensures that you stay in the lead. The rapid developments in the high-tech sector do not necessarily mean that you have to apply for a patent. Be sure to discuss this with a patent attorney who knows a lot about the high-tech sector.

What should you be paying attention to?

The most important thing when obtaining a patent for new technology is to ensure that you have priority rights for your invention. Priority rights are obtained by being the first to file a patent application that defines a specific invention. This prevents others from copying your invention. This can be done quite easily via the NL PCT route.

This route ensures that you have priority rights while you still have time to explore the market and choose where you want to protect your innovation. In short: the patent application is just as important as the actual patent itself. Once you have priority rights, you can go public with your invention. The filing alone is often attractive for investors and acts as a deterrent for competitors.

Good advice

In my opinion, every company involved in technological developments, especially in the high-tech sector, should consider patenting. But you should always talk to a patent attorney who is absolutely honest with you. There are times when a narrow patent is worth the investment, but there are also times when it is not. Sometimes secrecy is better. A good patent attorney is not in the business of selling patents, but in giving advice on them.

If you are not sure whether to patent or not or if you want to find out more about patents, please feel free to contact me. You can also chat with me or one of my colleagues on working days between 2pm and 5pm. If you go to, the chat function will open automatically. We are there to answer your questions.

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