When can I go public with my invention?

Frits van Houtum

Frits van Houtum

It is often known that an invention must be new to qualify for patent protection. But what exactly does this mean? And what can or can’t I do without harming the novelty?

Novelty requirement in short

An important requirement for granting a patent is that the invention must be new. An invention is new when it is not part of the “state of the art”. An invention has become part of the “state of the art” if it has become public in any way. This can be oral or written, but also because the invention is already in use before the patent has been applied for. It is therefore important that the invention remains secret until such time as a patent application is filed for it and you have obtained an official filing date. This is the only way to prevent your patent application from being rejected, or from being a target in a court invalidity procedure, because you have disclosed the invention yourself.


I can hear you think: have I made my idea public yet? Can I already talk to an investor? Can I already post something on Facebook or my website?

A patent office checks whether the invention is “new” by means of a search in written publications, especially online and in patent publications. When the invention is made public by means of a Facebook post, this will therefore not be discovered quickly, but it is indeed harmful to novelty. After all, Facebook is a public platform, but even if a patent council has not encountered the publication, this does not mean that the patent is then valid. In an opposition or invalidity action, for example, the patent can still be declared invalid.

When you want to enter into a conversation with a third party, this does not usually count as disclosure, but there is a risk that the other party will make the invention known without you knowing and intended.

Confidentiality Statement

For this reason, it is always wise to have a nondisclosure agreement signed when you want to discuss the invention with, for example, investors, producers, advertisers, etc. In English it is referred to as a so-called NDA. This stands for Non-Disclosure Agreement. We can draw up, develop and advise you on such a statement.


Main points to consider:

  • Before a patent application is filed:
    • always have someone else sign a nondisclosure agreement if you want to discuss the invention with them.
  • As soon as you have received confirmation of submission from us, you have registered the invention. Now you can feel more confident about promoting it.

If in doubt or if you have any questions about the foregoing, please contact us for advice.