The European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are considered to be crucial to the European economy. They represent over 99% of all European enterprises and provide 67% of total employment in Europe. Innovation plays a key role in the EU SMEs’ businesses, and intellectual property rights are a vital tool in promoting this innovation.
The European Commission in collaboration with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) are organising a significant number of initiatives for SMEs within the context of a fully-fledged and structured strategic programme. Through its SME programme, the EUIPO addresses the need to make IP services more accessible for smaller businesses, and to encourage SMEs to increase their competitiveness through better use and protection of intellectual property rights.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the competitive position of SMEs across Europe. To respond to this trend and strengthen EU SMEs’ competitiveness in the EU market, the Commission has envisaged a series of actions within the framework of the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME). In this context, the European Commission has proposed that the EUIPO financially supports and implements an action, the “SME FUND”, within the postCOVID-19 recovery action plan for EU SMEs, with a total of €20 million. The objective of this action is to financially support those EU SMEs that wish to protect their Trademarks and Designs by using part of the EUIPO’s financial reserves. The action is limited in time (over the year 2021) and has been established through a contribution agreement with the European Commission. The EUIPO will implement the action through the awarding of grants to SMEs in accordance with a pre-defined set of principles and criteria.
In line with this initiative, the EUIPO is offering to help SMEs by providing a 50% reimbursement of the application fee incurred when applying for trademark or design protection at any of the national IP offices of the EU (national level), at the Benelux Office of Intellectual Property (covering Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg; regional level), or at the EUIPO (covering all the Member States of the EU). There is no limit to the number of trademarks and/or designs application that the SME can apply for. However, the SME will be reimbursed 50% of the basic application fees up to a maximum of EUR 1,500.
As a brief procedure the SMEs must:
- the applicant company must be an established small and medium enterprise, based in the European Union;
- apply for the grant at the EUIPO, and wait for the grant decision;
- apply for a trademark or design registration within 30 days of receiving the grant decision from the EUIPO;
- after having paid for the application, submit a request for payment before 31st December 2021 using the link included in the grant decision;