Intellectual property

Patents and intellectual property (Patents & other IP rights)

For whom:

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


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


Consult with the Netherlands Patent Office (NPO), a department of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. The NPO implements (inter)national patenting regulations within the Netherlands and promotes the use of patents as a source of information and inspiration. It advises free of charge about any patent-related queries or other ways to protect intellectual property (IP), or alternatives, in every development stage.

Basic Research:

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

Applied Research:

At an early stage consider whether you want to protect or share your invention, or keep it secret. Most likely, your invention is an improvement of existing techniques. In order to find out whether your invention is new and you can therefore apply for a patent, you need to research the patent databases.


Your invention must be new, innovative and have an industrial application. ‘New’ means that the product or process must not be known anywhere in the world at the time that you apply for your patent. So be careful when you enter a trade show with your invention!


Apply for a patent only if it fits your business plan. For instance, 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 instance, countries where you can profit through licences on your invention.


Planning on importing a product? Find out about the products’ IP-rights in the patent database Espacenet.
Planning on 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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