A European patent is more expensive to obtain than a national patent. Unlike the Dutch patent procedure, a European patent is examined against the requirements of novelty, the inventive step and industrial application. This increases the workload of the patent attorney.
In addition, you must also consider, for example, more expensive filing fees and the costs involved in granting the patent.
Costs at the European Patent Office
An application may be filed directly with the European Patent Office or a patent may first be applied for in the Netherlands. A patent may also be filed with the European Patent Office via the PCT procedure. There are fees involved in applying for and maintaining a patent, though the application fees are only charged once. The costs of registering the translation of the patent vary for each country stated. Please check the website of the EPO for information on fees. Validation of a European patent in the Netherlands costs € 25.
Cost patent attorney
The costs involved in enlisting the expert help of a patent attorney can be considerable. Patent attorneys charge an hourly rate that is similar to that charged by a lawyer. You should prepare thoroughly for a visit to a patent attorneys' office. You should also develop your idea in detail and search in patent databases for patent publications that are similar in nature to your invention. Take these with you to the office. This will save the patent attorney some work and keep costs down.
A patent is a technical and legal document. It grants you the right to prohibit others to bring your product on the market. You must therefore describe your invention in legal terms. If a patent application is written by a patent attorney, it has a greater chance of success in court proceedings. The price depends on the complexity of your invention and the rates charged by the patent attorney. The price for an application for a European patent varies from € 25.000 to € 50.000.
Costs dependent on the number of designated countries
Once the European patent has been granted, it must be translated into the language of the country in which the patent is being pursued. Furthermore, maintenance fees must be paid separately in each country. The greater the number of designated countries, the higher the costs in the 4th year. You should therefore ensure prior to the end of the 3rd year that you know the countries in which it will be profitable to exploit your invention. Such countries might not only include those in which you operate but also those countries in which you could potentially gain greater profit by having a patent registered in that country.
When you initially file a patent in Dutch in the Netherlands, it must be translated into German, English or French prior to filing with the European Patent Office. Once the patent has been granted, approximately 3 to 5 years following filing, you will decide in which of the countries you already designated in your application you wish to have patent rights. You must file a translation in these countries. The translation costs depend on the size of the document and the rates of the translation agency.
Once it has been granted, the fees associated with maintaining your patent right will be incurred every year. These maintenance fees vary from country to country and the collective costs can increase considerably. Few patents therefore remain in force for the maximum period of 20 years. In most cases, it is then no longer profitable to enforce the patent in all countries. As soon as payments of maintenance fees cease for a particular country, the patent in that country will expire.
Finally, you must also take into consideration that costs may be payable for asserting your rights in the event of a patent infringement. The amount you can expect to pay depends on the risk of infringement and the legal fees in that country.
In the event of infringement in several European countries, legal action must be taken separately in each country. Court cases in the United Kingdom often cost 10 times as much as court cases in the Netherlands. Furthermore, judges in different countries can sometimes have different interpretations of a European patent and the outcome is therefore uncertain. By far most cases of infringement are settled, but it would be wise to have some funds set aside for any potential infringement.
For an estimate of the costs of a patent for your invention in the Netherlands, you can use the Cost Calculator for Protection of Intellectual Property.