As a company it is important to have a clear vision of what has or is able to have a commercial and legal value for your business.
This is why it is important to precisely assess your intellectual property assets as well as the risks and opportunities that they present. Therefore, it is generally interesting to register (inter)national trademarks, patents or designs, and to react immediately to imminent infringements of your IP rights. Protecting your intellectual property gives rise to important benefits both from a legal, commercial and technological perspective.
But filing and renewing your industrial property assets and securing the rights attached to them are often complex, time-consuming and most of all expensive tasks.
Would there be a possibility to reduce these costs? Yes, there is!
The European Commission created a 16 million euro grant scheme, called “The Ideas Powered for business SME Fund”, which aims to promote intellectual property within the EU an*d to financially support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are established in the European Union.
This initiative has been implemented by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and applies from the 10th of January 2022 until the 16th of December of the same year. To make IP filings more appealing, the grant program foresees partial refunds to SMEs that have paid certain fees related to IP filings.
Are there any administrative requirements?
Whereas the grants are allocated on a on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis – meaning that one should file his or her trademark, patent or design quickly in order to be able to enjoy a financial support – the filing process is relatively easy.
Only a few pdf documents need to be submitted.
First, you need to submit a statement of your company’s bank that indicates the company’s name as account holder; a national IBAN as well as the applying BIC or SWIFT code.
Secondly, the VAT certificate of your company or the national registration number certificate, being issued by a competent national authority needs to be provided.
A third requirement is the submission of a ‘Declaration of Honour’ that needs to be signed by the competent representative of the SME, officially stating that the eligibility criteria are met and that the SME has not yet received a financial support from the EU under the grant scheme.
Who can benefit from it?
The eligibility criteria are clear as well.
To benefit from the “Ideas Powered for business SME Fund”, you need to be an EU established SME, meaning that 1) you are an enterprise, an entity that pursues an economic activity and; 2) you employ less than 250 people and; 3) you have an annual turnover of up to 50 million euro, or your annual balance sheet total does not exceed 43 million euro.
An alternative solution is provided for newly created EU companies that does not contain this data (yet) but still want to register their IP and want to benefit from the EU fund. These young and starting enterprises need to submit a bona fide estimate in the form of a business plan of their relevant financial data.
Furthermore, the application can be filed by the company owner, an employee or an authorized representative of an EU SME acting on its behalf.
Are there any limits to the “Ideas Powered for Business” SME Fund?
The “Ideas Powered for Business” SME Fund makes a distinction between trademark and design application fees on one hand and patent application fees on the other.
Regarding patent applications, EU established SMEs can apply for a refund of maximum 50 % of the paid fees related to both national, regional and EU filings. This means that, if you are a small or midsized company established in the EU and you filed a patent application before any national IP office within the EU, before the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property or before the EUIPO, you can obtain up to 50 % reimbursement of the paid application fees.
However, the EU grant scheme provides two limits:
♦ Firstly, patent grants are limited to 750 euro.
♦ Secondly, there is a time limit. Once you have obtained the grant, you have 4 months to activate your check. This means that you have to pay a patent filing fee and request a partial reimbursement within 4 months. However, there is a possibility to extend this activation period by 2 months. After having activated your cheque, you have 12 months left to use it. Hereafter the cheque loses its validity.
Regarding trademark and design filings, small or midsized companies established in the European Union can also apply for a refund of maximum 75 % of the paid fees related to both national, regional and EU filings.
If you file a trademark before any national IP office within the EU or before the Benelux, 75 % of your application fees are reimbursable. If you file a trademark or design application before the EUIPO, 75 % of your application fees are reimbursable.
In addition, and contrary to patent applications, you can apply for a fund of 50 % for international trademark and/or design application fees paid before the WIPO for non-EU countries.
Also, here there are two limits:
♦ Firstly, the grants are limited to 1500 euro.
♦ Secondly, you have to activate your cheque within 4 months (with a possibility of a 2 months extension). After having activated your cheque, you have only 6 months left to use it before it loses its validity.
Finally, it is worth noting that there is no limit to the number of IP applications for which you would like to receive a reimbursement. In other words, you can perfectly apply for a refund for both trademark design and patent filings. Nonetheless, in that case, the total amount of the grant is limited to a maximum of EUR 2250.
The European Commission created a 16 million Euro grant scheme, called “The Ideas Powered for business SME Fund”, which aims to promote intellectual property within the EU and to financially support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are established in the European Union.
This initiative has been implemented by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and applies from the 10th of January 2022 until the 16th of December 2022. The EU grant program foresees partial refunds for SMEs to cover their paid fees related to both national regional and European IP filings.