Patents in other countries
Do you wish to protect your product or idea outside of the Netherlands? Patent attorneys can assist you there as well. Nearly all Dutch patent attorneys are also qualified European patent attorneys. Moreover, they can apply for patents in the countries that are party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). In the other countries they will secure your interests in collaboration with their worldwide network of colleagues, who have expertise in the local patent legislation.
Patents are national rights; they are granted per country in accordance with the applicable national legislation. This means that in each country you will incur local (translation) costs. You therefore need to carefully consider in which countries protection is important enough for you to justify such an investment. There are international procedures that bundle the granting of a patent in various countries. Examples of these are the European Patent Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). These procedures also have the advantage of providing provisional protection (registration), as a result of which you can defer the decision with regard to the specific countries in which you will, ultimately, apply for a patent.
Applying for patents in the Patent Cooperation Treaty countries
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) offers a simple and relatively inexpensive procedure for the provisional protection of inventions in 152 participating countries simultaneously. The choice in which country or countries you would like to continue this international patent application in order to obtain a national patent, will take place at a later stage.
Applying for a patent in Europe
You can apply for a patent in each individual EU country where you would like to protect your product or idea, or you can apply for a European patent. In that way, you will secure a patent in a large number of European countries in one single granting procedure (even including non EU countries such as Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). After 18 months, the European procedure results in the publication of the patent application. The prosecution of a European patent application takes 4 years on average and an opposition can be filed within a period of 9 months from date of publication of grant of the patent. This may result in the bundle of granted patents being revoked or amended. Once a European patent has been granted, the rights are regulated on a national level. It then takes the form of a bundle of national patents for each country you designate. Protection against infringement is something you are required to arrange in each country individually.
As from 2015: Unitary patent for Europe
The European Parliament has decided to introduce a system of one patent for the whole EU (only Spain and Italy have not joined). The first European patent is intended to be issued early 2018. Howver, currently there is still a level of uncertainty about this timeline in view of Brexit and legal national procedures that will first have to be decided.
Once the Unitary patent is a possibility, it will simplify the patent application process, because you will no longer be confronted with different rules in each country. Moreover, you will need to publish the application only in three languages: French, German and English. A Unified Patent Court will also be established that you can turn to for asserting your patent in all 25 countries.
Would you like to know which international protection strategy would be right for you? If so, you can ask one of our members for advice.
Also read » Patents in the Netherlands.