A patent protects not just a product as such, but also the underlying operating principle. This is why a patent can often be used to achieve the broadest product protection. As such, it is no surprise that strict requirements are imposed on patents. For example, the product or process must be completely new, but must also deviate from all products or processes previously known in a non-obvious manner. If this is the case, this is referred to as an invention.
It should be observed that it is not necessary for the product as a whole to be new. It will suffice for just one or more parts of the product to deviate from products known previously. Also, if only existing parts and techniques have been used in the development of the new product, it will still be possible to achieve patent protection, provided the requirements mentioned above have been met. Incidentally, a patent offers protection for products, but also for systems and processes, such as manufacturing techniques and procedures.
The following applies for patents too: as soon as you disclose your invention, you are impairing the novelty of your invention and it will be too late to achieve protection for the product at this stage. In principle, anyone will be free to use your invention in this situation. Therefore, it will be important to establish whether your product or process qualifies for patenting at an early stage here too and, if yes, to promptly make a decision about the steps that you wish to take in this connection.
Although you could choose to prepare and submit a patent application yourself, it is customary and far safer to arrange for a patent attorney to do this for you. If you believe that your product or process contains new, non-obvious parts, which could provide you with a competitive advantage, we will be pleased to put you in contact with a patent agent with the expertise required.
Given the fact that the filing of a design can also impair the novelty of an invention (and vice versa), we feel that it is very important to assess your products on the basis of both the Patent Act [Octrooiwet] and the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property (Trademarks and Designs) before disclosing them via filing and publication, or otherwise.