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Patenting procedures

The procedure for obtaining a patent begins with the filing of a patent application with the body responsible for issuing patents. Within the first twelve months (i.e. within the “priority year”) following the submission of the patent application, one or more further patent applications for a different country or different region are filed on the basis of this patent application.

Every country or every region in the world has its own patenting procedure. However, these patenting procedures can be classified into one of the following two main systems:

  • The registration system. The patenting body examines only whether the filed application meets the formal legal requirements. The content of the patent is not examined. In many cases, the body can be asked to carry out a novelty search, but the application does not have to be adapted in line with the results of this search.
  • The examination system. The patenting body examines the filed application on the basis of not only the formal requirements, but also the content-related requirements in terms of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability. To do this, the patenting body carries out a novelty search to determine the prior art. Following the novelty report, the body carries out a further content-based examination (substantive examination).


The Netherlands, Belgium and France have a registration system. Europe, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and the United States have an examination system.

National patent

A patent application can be filed for each country, such as in: The Netherlands Dutch patents are granted by the NL Agency, formerly the Netherlands Patent Council and Patent Office. Arnold + Siedsma has been authorised for more than 90 years to represent its clients directly in the Netherlands. ... Read more

European patent

In filing one patent application with the European Patent Office (EPO), you can obtain a patent in thirty-seven European countries at the same time. It makes sense to apply for a European patent if you require the patent in more than three European countries. For registration in three countries or ... Read more

International patent application

A worldwide patent does not yet exist. A patent must be applied for and granted for each separate country. Fortunately, the process resulting in international patent protection can be started with one action, i.e. the international patent applicationor PCT application. The Patent Cooperation Tre ... Read more

Novelty search

In order to determine whether the subject-matter of the patent application is novel and inventive, a novelty search is carried out by the patenting body to establish the prior art. To do this, the patenting body searches, inter alia, the worldwide patent literature. For Dutch and Belgian patents ... Read more

Priority right

The filing of a first patent application for an invention creates what is known as a ‘priority right’. Follow-up applications filed within one year of the first application retain the date of this first application. A frequently followed procedure for patent protection entails the in ... Read more

Maintenance of a patent

In most countries, a specific sum must be paid periodically, usually annually, to the patenting bodies to maintain the patent right. This payment is referred to as the annual fee or maintenance fee. You are not obliged to maintain the patent for the entire period. If the annual fee is not paid, t ... Read more


One patent may only protect one invention (concept or solution). Sometimes, it is beneficial to incorporate several inventions into one patent text. Some countries also permit the second invention to be protected at a later date with its own patent. This is referred to as a divisional. The divisi ... Read more

Utility models

An alternative form of protection is a utility model. This form of protection is not provided for in the current national legal system. In contrast, in other countries, such as Germany, for example, utility models (Gebrauchsmuster) are frequently used. In Germany, a utility model is an abridged o ... Read more

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