Holding a Dutch patent means your invention is protected in the Netherlands. In order to apply for a patent in other countries, you will need to submit your application in the countries concerned. After filing a first application in the Netherlands (or elsewhere), you will have twelve months to decide in which other countries you would like to protect your patent. All subsequent patent applications submitted within this year will have the same filing date as the original application. This is called the ‘priority year’. As you have a whole year to consider matters, you will be able to continue investigating the commercial value of your invention before spending money on subsequent patent applications.
The monitoring report which you receive in the priority year should give you a good idea of whether the patent will be granted. Taking the time to analyse this report in detail with your patent attorney is therefore vitally important. Besides the different procedures in each country, patent granting procedures based on international patent treaties have been developed whereby a single application might entitle you to rights in several countries. The best known examples are the European patent application and the international (PCT) patent application.
With a European patent application, you can apply for a patent in over 35 European countries. European patent applications are filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Rijswijk (the Netherlands), Munich or Berlin (Germany). The contents of a European patent application may be the same as that of a Dutch patent application. The requirements which the application must meet are similar to those in the Netherlands. European patent applications may be filed in Dutch but must also be translated into French, German or English.
After submitting the European patent application, the European Patent Office will initiate a novelty investigation, similar to that in the Netherlands.The applicant and the European Patent Office will then liaise in order to reach an agreement on the Mnal patent text. Your patent attorney will advise you at each step, depending on your strategy. For example, do you wish to obtain the patent fast or do you need time given your situation?
After the European patent has been granted, it will be divided into several national patents. For each national patent, the national patent law of the country in question will prevail. If the European Patent Office grants you a patent, you will need to decide in which countries you actually want your patent to be effective. Depending on your chosen countries, the patent text may have to be translated into the languages of these countries.These translations may be expensive. It is therefore advisable to bear in mind the translation costs you will incur at the end of the European patent application procedure. Incidentally, the obligation to translate the text no longer applies in all European countries. If you need to choose between individual patent applications in a number of European countries and one European patent application, the rule of thumb is that the European patent application will be cheaper if you are interested in protecting your patent in at least three countries.
Do not hesitate to contact our patent attorneys if you want to present your case or simply want to know more about patent applications.