Here you will find questions and answers concerning patents. If your question is not in the list, please contact us by email or telephone. We will be happy to provide you with further information.

Continuation of international application

Question: Is it possible to continue an international patent application in the Netherlands and/or Belgium, in other words, to have a Dutch phase and/or a Belgian phase of the international patent application?
Answer: No, an international patent application may only lead to a patent in the Netherlands and/or Belgium in the form of a European patent. Therefore, in order to obtain patent protection in the Netherlands and/or Belgium by means of an international application, it is necessary to continue this application in Europe.

Utility model

Question: Is it possible to apply for a utility model in the Netherlands and Belgium?
Answer: No, this is not possible, given the fact that in both countries, legal provisions in respect of utility models do not exist.

European patent attorney

Question: Is it necessary to make use of the services of a European patent attorney for the purpose of European patent proceedings?
Answer: In principle, the answer to this question is "no", but there is an exception. Applicants without residence or place of business in a contracting state of the European Patent Convention must be represented by a European patent attorney and act through him/her in all European patent proceedings, other than filing the European patent application.

Accelerated proceedings

Question: Is it possible to speed up European proceedings?
Answer: In the case of any European patent application, it may be requested that the prosecution of the application is accelerated. For this purpose, an adapted programme called PACE for handling the application has been developed.


Question: Is it possible to file an opposition against a granted European patent? If so, what is the duration of the opposition term?
Answer: The European Patent Convention provides for an opposition procedure. Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of a European patent in the European Patent Bulletin, an opposition against that patent may be initiated.

Computer software

Question: Is it possible to obtain a European patent for a computer program?
Answer: According to the European Patent Convention and its current interpretation, computer programs are only patentable in connection with a technical effect, which in itself must have inventive step. The technical effect may be a further effect, produced by the program when run on a computer, which effect goes beyond the "normal" physical interactions between program and computer. Computer programs as such are excluded from patentability.

Business methods

Question: Is it possible to obtain a European patent for a so-called method of doing business?
Answer: According to the European Patent Convention, methods of doing business per se are excluded from patentability. A patent can only be granted for a method having a technical character, which may be conferred if at least one of the steps of the method solves a technical problem or achieves a technical effect. In particular, a method of doing business is not excluded from patentability if the invention does not reside in an abstract method as such but relates to technical means such as computer networks to carry out the method, wherein it is further required that the invention solves a technical problem in a non-obvious way.