SMEs – apply for financial support for trade marks and designs

Catherine Hanratty

SM Es apply for financial support for trade marks and designs

The EU “ideas powered for business SME Fund” provides grant funding towards IP costs to support SMEs in developing and protecting their IP.

A new window opened for SMEs to apply for grants of up to 1500 Euro on September 1, 2021. Applications must be filed by September 30, 2021.

What is the SME Fund for IP?

The European Commission together with EUIPO, the European Union Intellectual Property Office, launched the 20 million Euro grant scheme the “SME Fund” campaign to promote IP Protection rights for SMEs in 2021.

Two services are available under this scheme.

Trade mark and Design application fees

SMEs can benefit from receiving financial support for their IP costs including up to a 50% reimbursement of the costs of a basic application fees for trade marks and designs at national, regional or EU level.

IP-pre-diagnostic – SMEs can also benefit from 75% off costs for an IP-pre-diagnostic service (available in selected EU countries, including Ireland).

Maximum reimbursement per SME is 1500 Euro.

Who can apply? How to apply?

The SME FUND is available to all EU SMEs. If your business fits the official EU definition of a SME, you can apply for support for under the SME fund, the main factors are staff headcount (<250) and turnover/balance sheet total.

To the end of July, around 8,000 SMEs from the EU have received funding under this campaign, with the largest number of SMEs coming from Spain, followed by Germany and Italy. To date in 2021, 79 SMEs from Ireland had received funding.

The EU reports that around 13 000 trade marks and over 3 400 designs have been requested at national, regional and EU level. Applications for the IP pre-diagnostic services are also on the rise, with 487 requests to date.

When and where to file grant applications?

Applications must be filed before September 30 2021. SMEs can apply directly, or their representative or IP attorney can apply on their behalf.

The SME FUND checklist and application form are available on the EUIPO website.

Further information about resources and supports for SMEs is also available from the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland.

In particular, it may be of interest to SMEs to learn about the further supports of the IP4SME Fund that may be available where the EUIPO SME Fund IP pre-diagnostic report makes a recommendation that an SME an innovation which may have the potential to be developed into an application for a European patent.

Further details are provided on the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland website, which provides as follows:

The SME may be able to apply for and potentially receive reimbursement of costs associated with obtaining a European patent under the IPA4SME programme, viz: 50% of the Patent Attorney fees related to a European Patent application, up to €2,000 per application process. 75% of the cost of a European Patent Application, up to €2,500 per patent application.

To be considered eligible to apply for such reimbursement, an SME should obtain a certificate from their IP pre-diagnostic service provider that their innovation(s) may potentially be protected by a patent.

For further information, please contact Catherine Hanratty, Director, Patents or Laurence Bibow, Senior Patent Attorney.

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