Patent application in the Netherlands
If you decide to apply for a patent in the Netherlands, you should start your search at the Netherlands Patent Office, a department of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. The Dutch grant procedure consists of a number of steps.
You must request a novelty search within 13 months following your patent application; otherwise your application will expire. You will receive the results of the search approximately 9 months following your request for the search. 18 months after the filing date, your 20-year patent will be published in the Dutch patent register and will be granted as soon as possible afterwards.
However, before a patent can be granted, the application procedure for a Dutch patent will involve:
In order to be eligible for a patent in the Netherlands, you must have devised a technical invention that complies with 3 material conditions.
3 material conditions
A technical invention is understood to mean a product or operating procedure in any technological field. The material conditions are:
- Novelty: the product or process may not have been made public anywhere in the world before the date of submitting the patent application, not even through the activities of the inventor himself (e.g. by means of a company brochure or a presentation at a trade fair).
- Inventive step: the invention may not be obvious to a professional.
- Industrial application: the invention must relate to a technically demonstrable functioning product or production process
You can protect these by other types of intellectual property rights, such as copyright, design rights and trademark rights. Read more about the different types of intellectual property rights.
When assessing your application, these requirements relating to content do not play a role, because patents are not examined in the Netherlands. That is why they are known as registration patents, meaning that your patent is always granted. The content is only examined subsequently in court in the event that a dispute arises in relation to the granted patent.
Applying for and getting a patent costs money, not only at the beginning of the application procedure but fees must also be paid once the patent has been granted. You should therefore consider carefully whether a patent will be worthwhile in your circumstances.
Questions such as 'Do the benefits outweigh the costs?' and 'Can I maintain my patent?' should be considered carefully (see also: Apply for a patent or not?). The costs incurred mainly depend on the number of countries in which you wish to have patent rights and which procedure you intend to follow.
Costs at Netherlands Patent Office
There are fees involved in applying for and maintaining a patent, though the application fees are only charged for once. If you choose to write the application yourself, the fees you will pay are:
- A filing fee of €120 for filing an application
- The compulsory novelty search, costing €100 (national search) or €794 (international search), which is performed by our office or the European Patent Office
Costs 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 lawyers. You should prepare thoroughly your visit to a patent attorneys' office by developing your idea in detail. Preferably, you should search the patent databases for several patent publications that relate to your invention prior to your first visit and take these with you. 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 too. If a patent application is written by a patent attorney, it has a greater chance of success in legal proceedings. The price depends on the complexity of your invention and the rates charged by the patent attorney. An application in the Netherlands costs between €2,000 and €10,000.
In order to maintain your patent rights, you must pay the first maintenance fee of €40 starting the fourth year after filing. These costs can increase slightly every year up to €1,400. If you pay the maintenance fees annually, your patent will remain valid for a maximum of 20 years. Please refer to our list of fees for an overview of the various fees.
You must also take into consideration that costs may be payable for asserting your rights in the event of patent infringement. The amount of money you should set aside depends on the risk of infringement and the legal fees. If you wish to contest the infringement in court, you should expect to pay a sum between €20,000 and €70,000.
There is no information available with regard to how often patents are infringed. In the Netherlands, no more than 25 patent-related court cases take place per year, compared with approximately 141,000 patents that are in force in the Netherlands. There are therefore few instances of infringement cases being brought to court and most cases are settled among the parties themselves prior to reaching court.
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.
The patenting procedure begins by completing the application form. In addition to this form, our office also requires a patent document, in which you provide a description of your invention. This document must satisfy certain sets of requirements.
Your patent application must meet the following 2 sets of requirements:
- requirements that need to be met to obtain an application number and a filing date;
- requirements that need to be met for your patent application to be processed by our office. These are referred to as formal requirements.
1. Requirements for application number and filing date
- A concise or general indication that you intend to file a patent application;
- Name and address data of the applicant;
- A text that serves as a description. This text may be written in any language. For example, if you submit a description in Spanish it means you meet this requirement. However, certain formal requirements still need to be met (see under B).
These requirements are set out in Article 29 of the Patent Act 1995.
2. Formal requirements
If you have not fulfilled all formal requirements, we will send you a missing details form. This document contains details of the information that is still required. You have 3 months to provide this information. Your application will expire if you do not respond to the missing details form or if you return it too late.
There are 2 sets of formal requirements:
- Details, payment and documents. These are particulars such as the inventor’s address data and the language in which the documents should be written.These requirements are set out in Article 24 of the Patent Act 1995 and Article 6 of the Implementation Decree Patent Act 1995.
- Additional regulations. These are particulars such as line spacing and margins. These requirements are set out in the Patent Regulation 2009 - Patent Act 1995.
Filing a patent application
You may file the application yourself but it is wise to have this carried out by a patent attorney. The final document has legal status and the quality of the application is therefore particularly important in terms of the right that you will ultimately acquire.
Filing an application in English
Since June 2008, it is permitted to file the description of patent applications in English. This came about as a result of the Protocol of London (London Agreement) entering into force. The claims of the patent application must however still be submitted in Dutch. If you continue your patent application in an international patent procedure in English within 1 year, you will save on translation costs by filing your documents with the our office in English where possible. After all, it will no longer be necessary to have your entire application translated from Dutch into English.
Patent applications may also be filed online. The Epoline® system of the European Patent Office may be used to file the following documents:
- National applications and any related subsequent items to be sent
- Translations of European patents and any related subsequent items to be sent
- International (PCT) applications
International (PCT) applications may also be filed via the PCT SAFE system of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). A patent application may still be submitted by post.
Our electronic systems are subject to maintenance work. Preventive maintenance provides the best possible guarantee that systems shall remain accessible at all times. However, in-house or external breakdowns cannot be ruled out. If technical breakdowns occur that hinder the use of this website (and of online filing via this website), we will do everything to rectify these as soon as possible.
We will report any planned shutdowns for maintenance work on our website at least 24 hours before the work begins.
If you need more information on how to apply for a patent in the Netherlands, please contact the public information office.
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