On Monday, the European Commission and the EU Intellectual Property Office announced the new EU SME Fund, which will provide vouchers to EU-based SMEs to aid in the protection of their intellectual property rights.
This is the second EU SME Fund, with a three-year goal of assisting SMEs in the COVID-19 recovery and green and digital transitions (2022-2024).
"If SMEs want to grow or take the lead in new technologies, they need to protect their inventions and creations, as big companies do," according to EC vice-president Margrethe Vestager. "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. "
With a budget of €47 million, the EU SME Fund will provide the following assistance:
1. Refund 90% of the fees charged by Member States for IP Scan services, which provide a broad assessment of the applying SME's intellectual property needs while taking into account the intangible assets' innovative potential;
2. Reimburse 75% of the fees charged by intellectual property offices for trademark and design registration (including national intellectual property offices, the European Union Intellectual Property Office, and the Benelux Intellectual Property Office);
3. Reimburse 50% of the World Intellectual Property Organization's fees for obtaining international trade mark and design protection;
4. In 2022, reimburse 50% of the fees charged by national patent offices for patent registration;
5. Additional services, such as partial reimbursement of the costs of the patent prior art search and the patent filing application, as well as private IP advice charged by IP attorneys, could be covered starting in 2023. (for patent registration, licensing agreements, IP valuation, alternative dispute resolution costs, etc.).
To protect their innovations, SMEs require a flexible intellectual property toolkit as well as quick funding. As a result, the new EU SME Fund now covers patents for the first time. The Commission's financial contribution of €2 million will be used exclusively for patent-related services. An SME, for example, could apply for reimbursement of the registration fee for a patent in a Member State.
The SME Fund will be managed by the EUIPO through calls for proposals. On the EUIPO website, the first call was launched yesterdat.
The application for grants will be open throughout the period 2022-2024 in order to ensure fair and equal treatment of potential beneficiaries as well as efficient management of the action. A 'first in, first out' criterion will be used to examine and evaluate the applications. SMEs with no prior experience in the field of intellectual property are encouraged to apply for the IP Scan service first, and then the other services.