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Intellectual property


Patents and intellectual property (Patents & other IP rights)

For whom

Business owners (SMEs, startups), the services sector, scientists, teachers and students with technological research and development.


Intellectual property (IP) is something unique that you physically create. IP is a way of making your innovative new product or idea your actual property. Copyright, patents, designs and trademarks are all types of intellectual property protection. IP is a right that means only you benefit from an intellectual accomplishment. A patent protects the invention of a technological product or process. If you have a patent, you can prohibit others from copying, selling or introducing your invention.


Consult the Netherlands Patent Office (NPO), a department of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. NPO implements national and international patenting regulations in the Netherlands. It promotes the use of patents as a source of information and inspiration. NPO offers free advice on patent-related queries or other ways to protect intellectual property (IP), or alternatives, during every stage of development.

Basic Research

Use the patent databases, with more than 90 million patents. Find out about competitors, cooperation partners and trends in various technological fields.

Applied Research

At an early stage, decide whether you want to protect or share your invention, or keep it secret. Most likely, your invention is an improvement of existing techniques. To find out whether your invention is new and you can apply for a patent, you need to research the patent databases (in Dutch).


Your invention must be new, innovative and have an industrial application. ‘New’ means that the product or process must not be acknowledged anywhere in the world at the time that you apply for your patent. So, be careful if you are planning on going to a trade show with your invention.


Only apply for a patent if it will help you with your business plan. For example, because it will give you a strong negotiating position when seeking collaboration partners or investors. Think carefully about the countries in which you want the patent to apply. For example, countries where you can profit from licences for your invention.


Do you want to start importing a product? Find out about the products’ IP-rights in the patent database Espacenet.
Do you want to start exporting a product? You need to check the countries' national IP-registers and find out what IP-rights apply.


Netherlands Patent Office, Mr Yp Kroon.

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