Spring direct naar de hoofdnavigatie of de inhoud

Types of intellectual property rights

Every country has various types of intellectual property rights. An overview of these rights in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany can be found below. V.O. is a specialist in the field of intellectual property. We can help you to patent your idea or take care of the registration of your trademark or design. We will be more than happy to help you with other intellectual property issues anywhere in the world.

Patent rights

A patent protects an invention of a technical process or product. It is an exclusive right, (without your permission) others are not allowed to manufacture, use, sell, rent, or supply your invention. To obtain a patent right, the invention must be new, involve an inventive step and have an industrial application.

Trademark rights

A trademark is the link between an innovation and commerce, it will significantly distinguish your product from that of other market players. The illustration below shows the various types of trademarks, but even fragrances and sounds can be a form of trademark. Trademark law provides protection for these forms if they have been registered in the trademarks register. Have a look for yourself in the Benelux trademarks register and/or the European trademarks register.

Trade name rights

The purpose of a trade name is to distinguish one business from another, and to protect against confusion in the area where they are active. The law does not require that trade names have distinctive character, as it does with respect to trademarks.

Design rights

Design registrations can protect the physical appearance (such as patterns and 3D shapes) of new and unique designs and productions. To register a design, it is important that it regards a novelty with a unique character that is still unknown. Within the EU, registration is possible up to twelve months following the first publication of a new design. You can look in the Benelux trademarks register and/or the European trademarks register yourself.


In many countries copyright automatically applies once a work is created. This right remains valid for seventy years after the creator’s death. Through copyright, authors (and creators of science or art) obtain the exclusive right to decide what happens to the work. This also applies to creators of software and source code. The use of the right can be transferred with payment or not, for example to licensees.

Neighboring rights

Just like copyright, neighboring rights are automatically created when a work is made. The protection is similar to copyright, which is why they are called neighboring rights. These rights provide protection for the efforts and accomplishments of performing artists, music producers, film producers and broadcasting organizations.

Trade secrets

Trade secrets are defined as all facts, circumstances and processes relating to a business that are known as confidential business information within a business only to a specific group of people, that are classified by the business as confidential and may not be disclosed to the outside world, such as customer lists, sources of supply, calculation documents, terms, conditions, recipes, development and research projects and documents on creditworthiness. Employees, suppliers and customers may be contractually obligated to keep trade secrets.

However, a registered IP right may also be an option for developments and processes that until now may have been regarded as business secrets.

Utility model

The 'utility model', is the 'little sister' and alternative of the patent. It protects industrially applicable technical inventions and makes it possible to prohibit the use of your IP right. Unlike patent applications, utility model applications do not usually involve technical or substantive research. The processing time of the application is therefore a lot shorter; the utility model may be a fact within 6 to 8 weeks. The Netherlands and Belgium do not have this form of protection, but countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Denmark and Germany do have it. Read more about this form in this article.

Plant breeder’s rights

New varieties often are created after a long and costly plant breeding process and this investment can be protected. For example through the Community plant breeders’ rights that can be in forced both nationally or internationally. The Board for Plant Varieties [Raad voor Plantenrassen] grants plant breeder’s rights in the Netherlands. The Netherlands Inspection Service for Horticulture [Stichting Nederlandse Algemene Kwaliteitsdienst Tuinbouw] first conducts an admission test, plant breeder’s rights test and an inspection examination. The Board then grants plant breeder’s rights.

Database rights

Databases consisting of collections of ordered data may fall under the scope of database law. That way, producers of databases are protected by the Dutch Databases (Legal Protection) Act. It enables Dutch Statistics Netherlands [Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek - CBS], for example, to protect their statistical data in which they invested a lot of time and knowledge. Visit also how to protect and patent software.

Chip rights

Chip rights protect the topography of (memory) chips, semiconductor products or microprocessors. Similar to copyright, chip rights are created when making a chip (similar to author’s rights). To enforce these rights, however, registration in the register is mandatory.