In today’s digital age, it is indispensable to protect one’s intellectual property to legally safeguard unique ideas, products and services from being copied or utilised without permission. IP Protection safeguards various assets including trademarks, designs, patents, corporate identities, products, services and processes.
The SME fund is a European Commission initiative which was first implemented in 2021 by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), in close collaboration with the national and regional IP offices. This grant is designed to aid European small and medium-sized enterprises in preserving their IP rights. Such financial support is aimed at businesses that wish to develop their IP strategies and protect their IP rights, trademarks and designs at national, regional or EU level.
The Ideas Powered for business SME Fund has launched once again and shall run from the 10th of January 2022 until the 16th of December 2022. This fund is offering a partial reimbursement of costs to SMEs consisting of a 90% reimbursement of IP pre-diagnostic services (IP Scan), a 75% reimbursement of trademark and design fees at EU, national and regional level and a 50% reimbursement of patent fees at national level and trademarks and designs outside the EU. Thus, for the first time, the new EU SME Fund is also covering patents. With regards to IP scans, trademarks and design fees, each SME may be reimbursed up to a maximum of €1,500 (Voucher 1), and up to a maximum of €750 in the case of patent fees (Voucher 2). The total amount for a possible grant is limited to a maximum of €2,250 due to the fact that each voucher may only be requested once.
In light of COVID-19, this funding scheme is simpler and more flexible to fulfil IP needs of SMEs, which have been greatly impacted by the pandemic. Owners, authorised employees or representatives of the SME may submit an application, indicating the service/s the SME wishes to benefit from. Subsequently, the applicant will receive, via email, either a grant award, a clarification request or a rejection. In the event that the grant award and the voucher/s are received, the applicant may proceed to request and pay for the desired IP activities. Afterwards, the applicant may apply for a reimbursement upon proof of payment. The vouchers received are to be activated within the following 4 months, with the possibility of a 2-month extension if requested during the last 30 days of the original 4-month period. Once activated, an implementation period of 6 months for Voucher 1 and 12 months for Voucher 2 respectively, starts to run and during the latter the applicant may request further activities and ask for additional reimbursement. After the expiry of the aforementioned implementation period, an additional 30 days start to run to request reimbursement. In the event that the applicant receives a negative grant decision, the applicant may apply once again. 47 million Euros have been allocated for this scheme and funds are limited and available on a first come, first served basis.