How can I protect my intellectual property rights?

The rights of intellectual property owners are laid down by law. If someone infringes your right to a protected idea or design, you should take steps to stop them doing so.

Infringements of intellectual property rights (IPRs)

If you discover that someone else is using (or has used) your invention without your permission – that is, without a patent licence – the courts can decide whether your IPRs have been infringed.

Taking steps to curb infringements of intellectual property rights

If someone else infringes your intellectual property rights, you should take steps to stop them doing so. You can start by contacting the person directly and trying to solve the problem amicably. If these efforts fail, you will have to take the case to court. For instance, you can ask the court to prohibit the infringement in interim injunction proceedings (kort geding). Or you can ask for the infringing goods to be recalled or destroyed. Other options are to request a share of the profits or demand access to information on the purchasers.

Enforcement of intellectual property rights

Holders of IPRs can enforce these rights in civil proceedings. This is laid down, for instance, in EU Directive 2004/48/EC of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights and the Dutch Code of Civil Procedure. The legislation lays down rules for the enforcement of IPRs. Options include:

  • instituting interim injunction proceedings;
  • applying for the attachment or seizure of goods or for garnishment of income.

Customs checks and IPRs

Do you believe that someone outside the external borders of the Netherlands (or of the EU) is infringing your IPRs? If so, you can ask the customs administration to take action. This is only possible if the goods are subject to the supervision or control of the customs administration.

If the customs administration approves your request and discovers the goods during a check, it can refuse to allow the goods to cross the border. It will then give you an opportunity to check if your rights are being infringed. If so, you can take action against this infringement.

Enforcement of IPRs under criminal law

As a matter of principle, parties in the Netherlands settle their disputes under civil law. Enforcement under the criminal law is seen as a last resort. The enforcement of IPRs under the criminal law is possible, for instance, in the case of:

  • a threat to public health;
  • large-scale counterfeiting and piracy;
  • evidence of involvement of criminal organisations.

Enforcement under the criminal law is the responsibility of the Public Prosecution Service and the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD).