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Blog | The patented Emperor's clothes | EP&C Patent Attorneys

The patented Emperor's clothes

Just like every year in July, the biggest cycling event in the world - the Tour De France - is once again underway. The chosen cyclists have started their quest for the coveted yellow jersey with a short time trial. Their prospect of success depends on them achieving their best sports performance, which is why teams leave nothing to chance. Just like in other sports, a great deal of effort and money has long been invested in high-tech gadgets in cycling. Because these help, both on and off the bike, to push the boundaries as far as possible.

Technology in every fibre

Apart from the fact that I am once again thoroughly enjoying the greatest cycling event in the world, it is always interesting to try and discover the less visible technological achievements. The teams spare no expense when it comes to helping their cyclists in their fight to victory and put them in the saddle with the best possible equipment. As a patent specialist, it is a pleasure to discover the visible and invisible inventions.

For example, in an article on I read that clothing sponsor Kalas has teamed up with Vorteq's patented technology. Their goal: to develop the perfect aerodynamic cycling outfit. To this end, they tested over 45,000 combinations in wind tunnels. Vorteq's ultimate secret formula apparently yields a five percent time gain. The research required huge investments which have to be recouped. Thanks to the collaboration with Kalas the technology can now be used and even amateur cyclists can buy an ultrafast outfit.

What do you mean, secret formula?

I very much want to clear up this misunderstanding. If a technology is patented, the technological product or process cannot possibly be secret. In order to qualify for a granted patent, one of the requirements is that you must make your invention public. A filed patent application is in principle published after eighteen months.

This means that everyone will then be able to study your invention and read exactly how it works. In the case of patents, it is therefore not possible to withhold essential information about the invention.

What if you would prefer to keep it secret?

A patent protects your technological invention, but it also implies that you will share the technical specifications with the outside world in a publication. It is often a difficult balancing act to decide which is best: secrecy or patenting. In some cases, keeping valuable information secret is the only or best option.

In that case protection via a trade secret is an alternative. A trade secret can be kept intact indefinitely. Coca-Cola's recipe is probably the best-kept secret in the world. A patent gives you exclusive rights for a maximum period of 21 years. During that time, the investment must have produced the intended return.

Advice tailored to your specific needs and situation

Every invention is different, so there is no one-fits-all solution when it comes to intellectual property. As a patent specialist at EP&C, my daily work consists of helping people who have made a special discovery and want to protect it. The way you go about doing this is a strategic choice whereby you have to weigh up the pros and cons.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, we at EP&C can of course offer you advice. By listening to your idea and contributing our thoughts about your plans, we will come up with a suitable solution. .

Outstanding performance

In the meantime, the top talents from the world of cycling are racing on the French roads. And it may or may not be a coincidence but the Belgians and Dutch seem to be in top form this year. Is it their legs, the ultrafast cycling outfit or the aerodynamic bike that is responsible for this outstanding performance? It is probably the combination of all these factors. But patent protection or not, they will hopefully continue to achieve the same outstanding performance in the coming weeks.