Monday 7 June 2010

A Welcoming Home for Inventors

Since my apartment is wonderfully cool again, I thought this week I’d focus on northern Europe rather than another island jurisdiction. A few readers had pointed out the tax benefits available to IP owners in Belgium, which I think is a lovely country, having been there several times myself.

As of 2008, Belgian companies are entitled to a tax reduction on patent income (prior IP Finance posts on this tax reduction here and here). The patent income deduction was created to encourage Belgian companies to invest in research and development leading to patent ownership and exploitation. The 80% tax deduction reduces the effective tax rate on patent income to 6.8%. Incidentally, the European Patent Office has an outpost in Brussels. It is located at Av. de Cortenbergh, 60 (see photo, right).

Every major luxury and business hotel brand has at least one property here, if not more. I won’t suggest one over any other – they are all great at servicing business travelers with well-appointed rooms, business centers and room service. If you have a local office or travel with gadgets that function as a mobile office (and thus aren’t in need of a hotel business center) and you are interested in trying a less business-minded hotel, stay at the wonderfully quirky Hotel Welcome by Place Sainte-Catherine. Each room or suite in this unique bed and breakfast is decorated in the style of a different country or region – Egypt, Bali, Morocco, Japan, Cuba, and Tahiti, to name just a few examples.

If the weather is nice, have a picnic in Egmont Park, a rather peaceful and secluded park located near the Palais de Justice and – if you’ve decided to stay there – the Hilton Brussels Hotel, which is situated along the edge of Egmont Park (the hotel’s café overlooks the park).

A great spot for a business lunch is La Maison du Cygne. Karl Marx used to drink at this former tavern that has since become an elegant restaurant on Rue Charles Buls on the edge of Grand Place. For its 50th anniversary, La Maison du Cygne has opened a sister restaurant, also in Grand Place, called Brasserie de l’Ommegang, where you can lunch on the dish of the day for just €15. Appropriately named, La Manufacture is a former leather manufactory that features indoor and outdoor dining and has a menu that is a fusion of Mediterranean and Asian foods.

At Le Cirio, a belle époque style café on Rue de la Bourse, by the Bourse (the Brussels Stock Exchange), the house drink is the “Half and Half”, a concoction made from white wine and champagne; of course, they also serve more traditional drinks if the Half and Half does not appeal to you. A La Morte Subite, another great location for a drink, gets its name from a dice game that bankers used to play while drinking here on their lunch break.

Finally, if you are in a beer drinking mood, you can’t leave Brussels without visiting Delirium Café, an 18th century basement 100 meters from Grand Place. This bar is for the serious beer drinker. With 2,000 beers on tap, the menu is the size of a book. Order by number and the bartender will climb a ladder to fill your glass from one of several levels of taps in the ceiling. I must admit, I only managed to try a few when I visited (your guess is as good as mine as to how many I had sampled before taking the photo to the left). Perhaps you can do better! Delirium’s menu also includes cheeses, sausages, and chips, as well as soft drinks and juices, in case you need to take a break from drinking your way through the extensive beer menu.

If you are arriving by car, you can’t go wrong with Parking 58 municipal parking lot on Rue de L’Eveque near Place Sainte-Catherine. From the 10th floor parking level, you’ll have a safe place to leave your car and an unrivaled, unique 360 degree view of Brussels. You can even see clear across the city to the Atomium from here!

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