When you’re a startup founder, worrying about protecting your intellectual property is not on your immediate to-do list. However, your IP rights are one of your most valuable assets: they can set your business apart from your competitors, offer customers something new and different, and they can even be sold or licensed. IP can also be used as security for loans and can form a crucial part of your marketing and branding. Therefore, it’s important to be informed on the subject, and now – thanks to our friends at Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) – you can.
Are you using a name and/or logo to distinguish your products or services from others? Registering your company name at the Belgian Chamber of Commerce is not enough; you need to register a trademark, too. To register your trademark for the Benelux, visit the BOIP website. You can find more general information about trademarks on the Belgian FPS Economy page on Intellectual Property.
Intellectual property rights may cover names, visual signs, works of fine art, useful creations, fashion creations, technical inventions, plants, internet sites etc. The first step is to determine which intellectual property right is likely to be applicable to a particular object. Each of these rights corresponds to a different set of rules: those cases which require authorisation are different; the conditions for obtaining a patent are not the same when it comes to copyrights. The same goes for the duration of protection, administrative formalities, etc. Learn more about which copyright protection is correct for you.
Computer programs may be protected by copyright, and in certain cases (when using a technical invention) by patent rights. Technological inventions such as a new material or product, a more efficient machine or an improved manufacturing process may be protected by a patent.
4) Design rights
If the design of your product sets it apart from other products on the market, you should think about protecting your design. The BOIP website contains in-depth information about the registration of designs in the Benelux.
5) Do not re-invent the wheel!
Existing patents are a useful source of knowledge, so make good use of them! You may want to do some research in patent databases. It’s also important to check the legal status of patents from the very start, continuing to check their status throughout the course of your innovation. Keeping up-to-date with technological developments that already exist will make the process much faster and smoother. Get more information on patents and the intellectual-property system.
6) Proof of your idea’s date
Register your idea via an i-DEPOT. An i-DEPOT is not an IP right, but it can prove that your idea existed at a certain point in time. Learn more on the BOIP website.
Get in touch
If you want to know more about IP rights and your options, please use the following contacts: