A substantial portion of production equipment used in the food industry is made of stainless steel. Keeping equipment clean is of particular importance to this sector. Kalfsvel Metaalcoating developed a product for cleaning stainless steel more simply and thoroughly. Owner Cees Kalfsvel is ready to market this invention, but he is first considering how to protect it.
The Netherlands Patent Office – part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) – is his first point of contact.
"We apply a profile layer to the surface," Cees Kalfsvel explains. "It must not be too smooth or too rough. If the surface is too smooth, dirt will adhere to it, but if it is too rough, the dirt will get lodged in the grooves. The profile that we are applying with this stainless steel Food Grade Finishing is exactly in between these two extremes. It is best to compare it with a layer of golf balls, but microscopically small golf balls. This profile makes it easier to remove the dirt.
The invention was not originally part of the company’s range of products. "We started development when a customer asked us if we could make it for him. It took a lot of experimentation, but we eventually found the right method. We were happy, and so was the customer. After that, demand for it rose, so we decided we wanted to market it more seriously.
Help from Netherlands Patent Office
Before Kalfsvel launches the product on the market, he wants to apply for a patent in order to protect his invention. This is why his customers only got to see the end result; he kept the equipment and materials needed to make the product a secret. A condition for applying for a patent is that the invention in question must remain a secret up until the patent application. Kalfsvel then sought out independent information. "With the help of the Netherlands Patent Office, I figured out in what ways I could protect my invention. The people at the Netherlands Patent Office retrieved everything they had in the patent databases in this area. I also got a list with companies that could help me with my innovation."
Multiple forms of protection
"Together with the Netherlands Patent Office, I again checked how best to protect every component of my invention," says Kalfsvel. "While the best solution for some components turned out to be keeping them a company secret, for others, I could apply for a patent. This was the case for the tank containing the profile mixture, for example, and the nozzle of the jet spray we use to apply the profile."
"I prefer to keep the medium I use for the spray a company secret. This is because the composition is difficult to discover and a patent application is made public. A third option is to reach smart agreements with collaborative partners. I’m currently exploring the possibilities with a number of them, so that's still to be followed up."
"Together with the Netherlands Patent Office, I again checked how best to protect every component of my invention."
More about patents
Are you an inventor, who has developed a technical innovation? Come to the Netherlands Patent Office to discuss the options for protecting your ideas in complete confidence. Or visit the website for information on Patents.