What is a patent?
A patent allows you to protect a new product or a new process against copying. Improvements to existing products and processes can also be protected. A patent enables you to prevent competitors from exploiting your invention, thus granting you a competitive advantage. A patent is valid for a maximum of 20 years from the moment of filing, with exceptions for pharmaceutical inventions, for which an additional term of protection of 5 years may apply. Some examples of patented products and processes are:
- New product: a particularly large air valve for self-inflating products, such as an airbed.
- New process: process for growing a crop in an air-conditioned environment.
- Improvement of an existing product: coffee machine with an improved cartridge
Patents protect innovations in a wide range of sectors and industries. A lot of patenting takes place in the following industries: biotechnology, electronic goods, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, mechanical engineering, chemicals. If you are in doubt as to whether your invention is patentable, we would be happy to discuss options with you in an introductory meeting.
Why patent your invention?
For many companies patenting is not the first thing on their minds. It does not come cheap and yields few results in the short run. Especially at the beginning of the procedure patenting costs may appear prohibitive, but companies would not invest in it if it did not produce any results. A patent generates income in due course because you are the only one who may exploit your invention and thus you can increase your market share, negotiate a higher asking price, expand your market, grant a licence under your patent and thus allow your licence to generate income. In addition to financial advantages patent protection provides many other benefits. A patented product is more attractive for investors and buyers. A patent also represents value on your balance sheet, deters competitors and creates a professional and innovative impression on the market. Moreover, if you are attacked by another party, patent protection increases your bargaining power.
In order to qualify for patent protection your invention should meet the following requirements:
- The invention should be new (i.e. not yet disclosed to the public).
- The invention should be sufficiently inventive (i.e. the invention must be non-obvious).
- The invention should be industrially applicable.
During an initial introductory meeting you can talk about how your invention works with one of our patent attorneys and obtain his opinion on whether or not your invention is patentable. He can then prepare a patent application for you. This consists of a description and drawings explaining the invention as accurately as possible. If you agree to this your patent application will be filed with the official authority of your choice. Initially, this is usually the Netherlands or Europe. From the date of filing you have a year to decide whether or not you would like protection outside your chosen area. In that year you can for example try to find investors or see whether your product proves to be successful on the market. After the patent application has been filed the official authority will examine whether the application meets all conditions to be granted. They may consider the patent not to be new or inventive due to older patents which more or less describe the same invention. Your patent attorney will then prepare arguments to counter these objections. In more than 95% of cases the patent application will ultimately be granted. From grant onwards you may take action against infringers and label your product as being “patented” and thus protected by a patent.
Dutch Patent Office (Dutch patent)
Total procedure: 3,500 to 7,500 Euro
European Patent Office (European Patent)
Preparing and filing a patent application: 3,500 to 7,500 Euro
Dealing with objections: 5,000 Euro
The above costs are based on averages.
Since each invention is different, the costs may deviate from these averages. During an introductory meeting we can provide a more exact estimate of the costs to be expected. (Possible objections and procedures are not included. Prices exclude 7% office charges and 21% VAT).
We can also assist you when your competitor exploits your invention and you wish to do something about this. Our approach is creative and cost-effective. You can, for example, prevent your competitor from exploiting your invention, but it could be commercially more interesting to offer a licence or to negotiate other deals. If you have received notice from a competitor that you are infringing their patent, please ask us for advice. We will usually begin by carrying out an examination concerning the validity of the patent. For example, if your competitor failed to maintain their patent by not paying the annual fee on time, the patent might no longer be valid. If the patent right turns out to be valid, we can examine whether or not infringement has actually occurred. In addition, we can negotiate on your behalf and assist you in legal proceedings. Many conflicts can be resolved without going to court. Frequently, negotiations can lead to a mutually beneficial outcome. By involving us at an early stage we may spare you the costs of a court procedure.
In the more than 30 years of our existence we have built up a wealth of experience in many different industries, including mechanical engineering, chemicals, electrical engineering, the information and communication industry and biochemistry.
Besides preparing and filing patents you can make use of our experience for the following matters:
Carrying out prior art searches (older conflicting patents)
Conducting procedures before official authorities to have another party’s patent cancelled.
Docketing terms and paying maintenance fees
Watching third party patent rights
Advising and mediating in conflicts
Assisting lawyers in court procedures
Preparing and examining licence agreements
Implementing name and address changes and assignments in official registers
If you have questions on any of the above, please contact us.