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Protecting an idea

There are many options to have intellectual property registered. As discussed elsewhere, trademark law, copyright, design rights, database rights, plant breeders’ rights, patent rights, trade name rights and other areas of law offer the possibility of such registration. However, in order to qualify for protection in these fields of law and thus being able to take action against infringement, a specific name, design, work or invention is required. The abstract counterpart of all these expressions is the idea that has resulted in these concrete expressions.

It is precisely this idea that forms the basis for the later work, the later trade name or trademark or, for example, the developed invention.

The nature of intellectual property and the recognizability of that property towards third parties requires a specific expression. The idea cannot be protected as intellectual property. There is no written idea law.

An idea is the basis of every invention, every work or every trademark, but not or difficult to prove towards third parties. Ideas are by their very nature difficult to prove.

In negotiations that involve discussions with investors about the design and realisation of ideas, the idea holder will often have to try to ensure that his idea remains his idea through a cumbersome process of secrecy, in order not to get involved in an issue where one claims it to be his idea and the other party does the same.

It is important to be able to demonstrate that the idea actually belongs to the idea holder. It is advisable, therefore, to have the idea recorded. It can be recorded via the i-depot. The i-depot will assign a date, allowing the idea holder to prove in any procedure that he or she had the idea and had it recorded on a certain date. Indicating that the idea is protected in this way can already bring considerable peace of mind during the negotiations. Recording of the date by i-depot and the parties’ awareness thereof may exclude a great deal of confusion from the outset.

There is no legal regime for the protection of the i-depot and the i-depot does not create any legally established right, but is generally recognised as evidence. You may not be able to monopolise your idea, but that need not mean that someone else can start using your idea commercially. In certain situations, this use by the other party may result in a wrongful act.

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