As in most European countries, in the Netherlands a patent may be obtained by either filing for a national patent or by filing for a European patent with validity in the Netherlands. Over the years the number of national patents has declined to the point where a mere 750 applications were filed in 1992. As a consequence, the Dutch government has decided to simplify the national patent system. The revised Patent Act has entered into force on 1 April 1995.

A national patent in the Netherlands may now be granted immediately upon application for six years without a novelty search or an examination of the inventiveness of the patent being carried out. This so-called registration patent provides small businesses with a relatively cheap "face value" patent. According to figures released by the Dutch Bureau for Industrial Property the number of national patent issued in 1995 increased with 17%, primarily due to the registration patents.

It is also possible to obtain a patent for a validity period of 20 years, provided a novelty search is carried out. The result of the novelty search does not affect the granting of the patent, nor is the inventiveness of the patent examined.

The simplification of the patent application procedure has implied that costs of the application have been reduced. However, it may well be that the costs of enforcement of a patent are increased.

The revised Patent Act provides that whenever the validity is challenged, the patentholder should provide the court both with the result of a novelty search and with a report of the inventiveness of the patent, which has to be carried out by the Bureau of Industrial Property. The costs thereof are to be born by the patentholder, but if the court finds that the patent is infringed, the costs may be brought to bear on the infringer.

For further information contact Wolter Wefers Bettink at telephone No. +31 (0)20-57723677. You may also send a fax to +31 (0)20-5772703 or e-mail to