In Belgium, patent applications are not examined substantively by the Patent Office.
When a patent application is filed, the Belgian Patent office performs a novelty search. In practice, this is outsourced to the European Patent Office, so that a high-quality EPO search report is obtained. The results of this novelty search are sent to the applicant, and are later published with the patent application. No possibility exists to correspond with the Belgian patent office in relation to the results of the novelty search.
Irrespective of the results of the novelty search, the patent will be granted, usually 18-24 months after the priority date. This does not mean that one can file substandard patent applications though, because ultimately, substantive and formal requirements are similar to those for European Patents.
The validity of the resulting Belgian patent is therefore uncertain and will only be examined and determined in invalidity proceedings, which are rare.
It is important to consult a Belgian patent attorney when faced with a potential infringement of a Belgian patent. At Patenthuis, we can evaluate the potential infringement as well as the validity of the patent to assist you in making more informed decisions about possible next steps.