Check if your product idea already exists

You are a starting entrepreneur and you have a great idea for a new product. But are you sure it does not already exist? Before you invest time and money in developing your idea, make sure that no one else has the patent for the product. You can use patent databases to check whether your idea is really new.

What is a patent?

A patent is an official proof that shows that only you can make and sell a certain product. No one else may copy your invention. A patent is valid for a country or a group of countries and for up to 20 years. Patent law protects a technical product or the process of making such a product.

Check the patent database

To find out what patents are out there, you can check a patent database yourself. Espacenet, for example, gives you access to 120 million patent publications worldwide. The Netherlands Patent Office, part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO, regularly organises workshops on the possibilities of patents and Espacenet searches. You can also get help from a patent adviser (in Dutch). 

Infringement of an existing patent

You may not make or sell a product on which someone else has patent rights. You are then infringing the patent. The patent holder can force you to stop selling the product immediately. There is also a good chance that the patent holder will demand damages.

Would you still like to make and sell an existing product? Then you can ask the patent holder to agree on a license agreement. You then pay that person for permission to make and sell the product.

Follow the step-by-step plan

Making and selling a product requires good preparation. Think about doing market research and arranging financing. You also need to find out which laws and regulations your product has to comply with, such as safety requirements and environmental regulations. The step-by-step plan From idea to production will help you get started.