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Protect your innovative ideas

Unique ideas need protection: first EU SME Fund to cover patent costs

Unique ideas need protection: first EU SME Fund to cover patent costs

Intellectual property rights are key to a vibrant economy

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) announced on 10 January the start of a new fund aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to meet their expenses linked to protecting intellectual property (IP) rights.

The Idea Powered for business SME Fund is the full name of the programme, which is available until 16 December 2022. Small and medium companies based on EU territory can already, and are urged to, apply for financial support, which is limited and available on first-come, first-served basis.

Grants in the form of vouchers

The EU Commission is concerned about the proper recovery of European SMEs in the wake of the COVID pandemic, which is why this is the first time that its SME Fund has also been expanded to include support with IP-associated costs.

For those reasons, the Fund (47 million euros) is specifically aimed at covering the various costs linked to patents, with the goal of providing flexibility and protection in the rapidly shifting circumstances of the modern digital world.

The SME fund is a reimbursement programme that issues vouchers that can be used to partly cover the fees for the selected activities. There are two types of vouchers available depending on the activity concerned: one is for trademark and design fees, the other for patent fees.

Here is the kind of support that SME beneficiaries can expect:

  • Reimbursement of 90% of the fees levied by Member States for services under Preliminary diagnostics of IP (IP Scan), which provides an overall assessment of the intellectual property needs of the applicant SME, taking into account the innovative potential of its intangible assets;
  • Reimbursement of 75% of the fees collected by the intellectual property offices (including National Intellectual Property Offices, Office of Intellectual Property) The European Intellectual Property Union and the Benelux Office for intellectual property) for the registration of trademarks and designs;
  • Reimbursement of 50% of the fees collected by the World Intellectual Property Organisation for international protection of trademarks and the designs;
  • Reimbursement of 50% of the fees charged by national patents patent registration offices in 2022;
  • From 2023 onwards, other services could be covered as well. For example, in part reimbursement of the costs of the preliminary examination in connection with patents, for filing patent applications; private IP consultations, paid for by IP lawyers (for registration of patents, licensing agreements, IP assessment, costs of alternative dispute resolution, etc.).

Margrethe Vestager, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Competition, remarked on the launch of the new Fund by saying: “Small is beautiful, but if SMEs want to grow or take the lead in new technologies, they need to protect their inventions and creations, as big companies do. New ideas and expertise are the main added value we have in the EU. With this Fund, we want to support SMEs to face those peculiar times and remain strong and innovative through the decades to come.

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