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RVO Netherlands Enterprise Agency
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RVO: Startup? Wake up! This is what you need to know about patents

Editor’s note: In this blog post the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), breaks down common misconceptions about patents. This blog post was published on their website and is re-posted here with their permission.

As you might expect, at the Netherlands Patent Office, we know a lot about patents. In our interactions with startups, we encounter quite a few preconceptions about patents.

We have listed the 3 best-known ones:

  • Patents are expensive
  • Patents are only interesting for large companies
  • Patents kill innovation

Patents are expensive

In the Netherlands, the official fees for filing a patent start at €220. But why then do patents have the reputation of being so expensive? That probably has to do with the cost of hiring a patent attorney. A patent attorney is a legal and technically qualified expert who drafts and files patents.

A rough estimation of the cost is between €6,000-€10,000. And that’s the cost for an application in the Netherlands. If you apply for patents in more countries, the costs increase. This is a significant investment, but a patent can represent significant value since it allows you to exclude others from using your technology.

Patents are only interesting for large companies

Patents are of interest to companies large and small, because even startups can face infringement or counterfeiting or other disputes regarding intellectual property (IP). If you want to do business with other, larger parties, having a clear picture of your strategy can strengthen your negotiating position. The Netherlands Patent Office has various tools to assist you.

Patents kill innovation

But what about the third preconception: are patents killing innovation? Every invention ever patented in the world has been published. In fact, 18 months after your patent application is filed, it is listed in patent database Espacenet. Imagine more than 140 million patents you can search! This helps you avoid reinventing the wheel or infringing on someone else’s rights. And you’ll find a lot more interesting information. For example, you can learn the trends in different technology areas, what your competitors are doing and potential collaborators. Searching through all those patents requires some skill.

Down with the prejudices, long live the benefits!

Startups that deal strategically with patents and other intellectual property (IP) rights have a significant advantage over their competitors. Here’s how they do it:

  • They think early on about whether to protect, share or keep secret their inventions. By doing so, for example, they prevent others from running with their innovations.
  • They only apply for a patent if it makes sense; for example, because a patent gives them a good negotiating position when seeking collaboration partners or investors.
  • They only apply for patents in specific countries, countries where they themselves actively want to do something with collaboration partners or investors.

We hope this clears up any preconceptions about patents. Want to know more?

Feel free to make an appointment with Twan Uijttewaal, intellectual property advisor at the Netherlands Patent Office (RVO): Twan’s office is located at HTC 27.