By now he has become one of the most famous inventors in the Netherlands: Theo Tempels (77). In 1999 the keen rusk eater invented the indentation in rusks. He applied for a patent. In the summer of 2016 he won a lawsuit from a major rusk manufacturer based on his patent.
Who is Theo Tempels?
Tempels is a retired and wilful inventor from Apeldoorn. He doesn’t want any pictures taken, for example, as he would no longer be able to go outside anonymously. Tempels once studied Flight Engineering and spent most of his career at Philips. He retired when he was 57. His most important moment as an inventor was in 1999. He loved rusks, but was annoyed by the fiddling required to get a rusk out of the roll. He used a round file to make indentations in a couple of rusks and then put the rusks with the indentations back in the roll. He tested the result with his wife. He immediately saw the power of his invention and successfully applied for a patent.
Onto the market with a patent
Tempels wanted to sell his invention and visited several companies, including Continental Bakeries. He was granted meetings, but that’s as far as he got. The bakers were not interested. But then, in 2002, Bolletje launched ‘a new invention’: rusks with an indentation. Tempels jumped into action and told the company that they were infringing his patent.
Bolletje versus Tempels
Tempels chose the weapon of publicity in the fight. He called everyone and everything, from the newspaper Algemeen Dagblad to the TV programme Hart van Nederland. Bolletje instituted preliminary relief proceedings and demanded that the inventor cease his negative comments. In the end Bolletje concluded a licence agreement with Tempels and since then the inventor has been receiving a fixed amount per roll of rusks.
Van der Meulen
In 2011, the company Van der Meulen initiated an advisory procedure with OCNL regarding the validity of the patent. OCNL decided that the invention claimed in the patent was self-evident. However, there were never any legal proceedings between the inventor and Van der Meulen.
And then Continental Bakeries challenged the patent in 2015
Just like its predecessors, the multimillion-euro business claimed that the patent did not contain any inventive elements. In the legal proceedings initiated by Continental Bakeries, the court decided in favour of Tempels, who had been represented by V.O. Contrary to the recommendation from OCNL, the court in The Hague decided that the indentation was definitely inventive. By then it was the summer of 2016.
Is Tempels a millionaire?
His contract states that he is not allowed to say anything about that. Tempels lives in a modest terraced house and, according to himself, doesn’t need a second home. Whatever the case may be, the inventor, Tempels, demonstrates time and time again the value of a good patent.