Scaleup Vlaanderen, a collaboration of Agoria, imec.istart, and Sirris that takes Flemish growth companies to the next level, is partnering with NLO. The agency, which focuses on patent and trademark law, is providing financial support to the program, lowering the entry threshold for businesses.
As an entrepreneur, you frequently come up with brilliant ideas that can significantly boost your business. A new product, a new way of working, a piece of code that speeds up software... These are all insights that not only distinguish your company but also give it a competitive advantage. How do you ensure that it stays that way?
NLO, the Benelux's largest full-service intellectual property consultancy, answers that question on a daily basis. The firm, which has over 200 experts, specializes in patent and trademark law. "Entrepreneurs can protect their innovations because we work on patents and trademarks," says Marc Sader, European Patent Attorney.
According to Sader, there are several reasons why companies should seek legal advice on intellectual property law. 'One of the main motivations, of course, is to prevent competitors from using your invention. You can also form new partnerships and profit from your licenses.'
Registering a trademark can also increase your commercial viability. 'The name of some products is so well known that people are going to prefer those products over others. By registering your name, you can ensure a competitive advantage, which makes your company more attractive to investors,' says Sader.
It’s obvious that trademark and patent law involves many rules. According to Sader, how long it takes to register something and how much it costs depends on your invention. 'It's not cheap, but the alternative is much more expensive. However, it is critical to consider what you want to register specifically. We can assist companies in this process as experts because there are different methods and strategies for applying for a patent. This also allows you to better spread your costs.'
Because there are so many rules, experts can also assist you in deciding what exactly you can protect. Typically, the things you can't patent are not the things that determine the success of your business.
NLO now has a team of 16 people in Belgium and serves a large number of Flemish scaleups as clients. 'We know the sector inside out and continue to grow. Our client portfolio is very diverse, which is a big advantage. We can apply the expertise we gain from large companies to startups. Since a patent is valid for 20 years, you want it to remain relevant for two decades. Of course, for a startup that is constantly changing, this isn't always easy. That is why we focus on the business challenges of scaleups in order to anticipate how customers will use their product or service in the future. We offer significant discounts to startups and scaleups during the first year, when we do the majority of our work.’
A partnership with Scaleup Vlaanderen was therefore a logical step, says Sader. 'A lot of startups often seek intellectual property expertise too late. They want to enter the market quickly to be the first. Their invention is then publicly known, making it more difficult to protect it. In addition, we have also become partners because incorrect information about what one can patent circulates. Entrepreneurs make assumptions and often fail to patent their innovations when they could have. We are here to assist them with this.'