We can help you protect and enforce your intellectual property rights against infringement and unlawful use by third parties in the Netherlands.
While ownership rights offer the owner of a house or car protection against unlawful acts of others, intellectual property rights protect owners of creations of the mind. Intellectual property results from the expression of an idea. This can be music, design, inventions, texts and photos, but intellectual property also protects brands and patents. There are four main types of intellectual property rights in the Netherlands: copyright, trademark law, trade name law and patent law. AMS’s team of intellectual property attorneys both advises and litigates in the entire spectrum of IP rights.
In brief, IP rights give the creator of a work the exclusive rights to use, to reproduce and/or to exploit the work. The creator can invoke the intellectual property protection against everyone who use or copies the work without permission. It is required, though, that the work is fixed (written down or recorded): merely an idea is not protected.
Copyright is the exclusive right of the author of a literary, scientific or artistic work to communicate that work to the public and to reproduce it, subject to the limitations laid down by Dutch law (exceptions are made in order to protect the freedom of press and for educational purposes). Only original works are protected by copyright. A work is original when it is the result of independent creative effort.
A trademark is a sign that a company uses to distinguish its goods and services. A trademark can be a word like IKEA or Coca-Cola or a sign like the small apple of Apple. In order for a trademark to be protected in the Netherlands it has to be registered with the Benelux Trade Mark Office. For worldwide protection a trademark must be registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva.
A trade name is the name which a company uses to conduct its business. To avoid misleading or confusing the public, the Dutch Trade Name Act protects the entrepreneur. This means that another company is not allowed to use the same or a similar name if the risk of confusion exists. A name has to comply with certain rules before it is protected. Firstly, a business is not allowed to use a trade name that is misleading about the legal entity of the company nor can the name be misleading about the nature of the products or services. And, obviously, a trade name may not already be in use by someone else. A trade name does not need to be registered in the (Dutch) Trade Register in order to be protected; the entrepreneur or company that uses the name first can invoke protection. The name must have effectively been used in public, though.
In case of infringement of IP-rights, the owner is responsible for enforcement. Demanding an injunction in court is the most obvious legal action. Apart from claiming that the infringer be prohibited from infringing and be ordered to pay compensation, the owner can also claim that all counterfeit products be recalled and full compensation for legal costs. This is exceptional in the Netherlands as it is standard practice that only a part (according to a fixed rate) of the legal costs is awarded to the winning party.
AMS’s highly experienced team of IP lawyers both advises and litigates for Dutch and international corporates and individuals. We are committed to providing our clients with not only excellent service, but also cost-effective fee structures.