Copyright & Patents/an idea!


Hi Rene. I am not sure if you can help me but I will ask anyway! I have an idea that I feel would benefit and increase sales in companys in a specific industry. A big problem to this idea is I have no technical knowledge in achieving this idea! So, all I have is the idea. I am fairly sure any company in this industry,once given the idea, could perform the technical requirements. Have I got anything worth protecting-it being just an idea? Should I just approach a company to discuss the idea to see what they felt about it? I would be grateful for any comments you could make. I live in the U.K. Thanks very much...Richard.


This is a complex question. You would like to get patent protection, because your idea brought into practice would - as I understand it - be a technical invention, for which a patent is the right protection.

However, if it is a "business idea" or "business concept" no patent protection is possible (in most countries, I suppose also in the UK). For a patent the invention should be of a technical nature.

If I suppose that the idea can be worked out into a technical concept that technical concept would be patentable, but then the problem is that you do not have the technical knowledge to work it out.
So you will have to work together with somebody who has the necessary technical knowledge.

This can be a tricky business, because not everybody can be trusted in these matters. You cannot apply for a patent yourself now, because the application would not contain the becessary technical details.
What you could do in such a case is to deposit your idea with a notary. That would prove that you had this idea on the day it is filed with the notary. If somebody else later claims it was his idea, you have proof that it was yours.

After your deposit with a notary you could approach a company to discuss the idea, but I would still ask them to sign a statement of confidentiality in which they promise not to disclose the matter discussed to others.

As you see this is a very tricky business, and large companies have often "stolen" ideas more than once from 'small' ínventors.

But I do not see another way to bring your idea into practice.

Rene Hasekamp.

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Rene Hasekamp


I can answer questions about European patent law and practice. My experience mainly lies in the Dutch patent practice. I am not familiar with other patent systems than the European and Dutch systems, although I am familiar with general issues regarding patents. Please don`t ask me questions, specific for US patent law or any other non-European patent law.


I have been a patent examiner in the Netherlands Patent Office for 35 years. Now I am retired. I have been a deputy judge for patent cases in The Hague's District Court from January 1991 until June 2011.

I graduated in Chemistry and Law at Leiden University. I have worked in the Netherlands Patent Office as an examiner for 35 years until my retirement in 2003. I was appointed as a honorary deputy judge for patent cases in 1991. After my retirement I still work at a few cases on patent law in The Hague District Court.

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