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What is a patent?

A good idea may be glaringly simple and does not have to be complex per se. It may involve a product or product improvement, a production process or method, but it may also be a new application of an existing product.

A patent is an exclusive right to an invention. It protects the inventor against infringement by third parties. As a patent holder, you can take legal action if someone else copies your idea. Ideally, you can commercially exploit the patent. Patents can build on existing knowledge, and even simple, minor technical improvements to an existing product are eligible for patenting.

Important aspects to consider:

Confidentiality: Given the criterion of absolute novelty, an owner/company must therefore take the necessary precautions before bringing its product into the public domain. Publications from anywhere in the world and in any form whatsoever can be used to oppose the patentability of an invention.

Protected material: The patent attorney can carry out a study of various aspects of the product. He/she can identify innovative aspects, and, for example, on the basis of a preliminary examination of the prior art in the relevant field, can investigate the patentability of these aspects. Note that, strictly speaking, it is not only the product per se that can be afforded protection, but also, for example, methods of use of the product, production techniques for a product and the like. Software and databases may also be patentable under certain conditions. Once the rights have been at least temporarily established, the owner can make these public without concerns. Investors can also be approached without fear of information being leaked in an unwanted fashion. 

Scope: An invention is protected by a patent only in the countries in which the patent is applied for and granted. In countries where no patent is applied for, the invention can be freely used.

Time period: A patent is granted for a specific time period; in the Netherlands, for a maximum of 20 years, depending on payment of the annual fees due to the authority.

Public domain: Protection ends when the patent expires; the invention enters the public domain and is available for commercial exploitation by third parties.

Why a patent

Patents have significant economic value. Furthermore, you naturally do not want competitors to benefit from the success of your efforts. These are just two of the reasons for protecting your idea. And if you do not take your idea to market yourself, you can always sell it. The benefits are as foll ... Read more

Legal requirements

To obtain a patent, your invention must meet a number of legal requirements: Novelty: The invention must not be publicly known anywhere in the world, not even through your own action, before the filing date; Inventive step: The invention must not be obvious to a person skilled in the art; Indus ... Read more


An invention can no longer be protected with a patent if it has been made public before the patent application. You must keep your invention confidential until this time. This also applies to discussions with potential investors. All too often have we found out that an inventor had already publici ... Read more

The patent application

The first step en route to a patent is the filing of a patent application. The NL Agency, part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, is the patenting body in the Netherlands. The Belgian Intellectual Property Office grants Belgian patents and the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich and The Hague ... Read more

Worldwide protection

A worldwide patent does not exist. However, worldwide protection is available. By means of an international or PCT application (Patent Cooperation Treaty), this protection can be arranged for a large number of countries simultaneously. Global partner network: In virtually all countries, the natio ... Read more


Thanks to its rich history, Arnold + Siedsma has innumerable examples of patent protection in many different technical fields. A small selection of the patents drawn up by Arnold + Siedsma: Greenhouse construction The Netherlands is the world leader in greenhouse cultivation and Dutch companies ha ... Read more

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