- 12 March 2021
- Posted by: Niamh Gibney
- Category: Intellectual Property
Windows of opportunity – Manage your intellectual property (“IP”) the smart way
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (the “EUIPO”) supported by the European Commission (the “EC”) has launched the Ideas Powered for Business SME Fund (the “SME Fund”).
The fund is worth €20m and makes grants available to small and medium-sized enterprises (“SMEs”) in connection with certain IP services.
The SME Fund is intended to enable SMEs develop their IP strategy and protect their IP rights.
What is covered by the SME Fund?
The funding is intended to cover two types of services:-
• Service 1 – Pre-diagnostic IP services (referred to as the “IP Scan”) – Essentially this is an IP audit and IP health check for SMEs conducted by IP professionals for which certain fees incurred may be re-imbursed under the grant scheme.
• Service 2 – This relates to the application fees for trade mark and design applications (the “Application Fees”) – While this is called a service, it will enable certain re-imbursement of Application Fees paid to the relevant IP offices under the grant scheme.
What do you get?
• For Service 1 – 75% of the fees incurred in connection with an IP Scan are reimbursed to SMEs.
• For Service 2 – 50% of the Application Fees incurred are reimbursed to SMEs.
When to make an application for a grant?
There are 5 windows in total, the first of which has already closed:-
• Window 1 – 11 January 2021 – 31 January 2021 (Closed)
• Window 2 – 1 March 2021 – 31 March 2021 (Open)
• Window 3 – 1 May 2021 – 31 May 2021
• Window 4 – 1 July 2021 – 31 July 2021
• Window 5 – 1 September 2021 – 30 September 2021
Where to make the application?
The application can be made online at https://euipo.europa.eu/ohimportal/en/online-services/sme-fund
What’s the catch?
• SMEs who make an application outside of any of the windows, won’t be considered and the application will be rejected. However, you can always apply again in the next window.
• SMEs can only make one application for Service 1 or Service 2 or a combination of both. There is latitude to make additional applications in subsequent windows.
• The maximum you can be reimbursed is €1,500. However, if you do not use your full allowance on the first application, you may make a subsequent application. However, any subsequent application must be made in a separate window.
• The Intellectual Property Office of Ireland (the “IPOI”) don’t currently offer the IP scan service but watch this space! However, as at the time of writing, if you are located in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia or Spain then SMEs are in luck – the national offices in each of these member states offer the service (List accurate as of 9 March 2021).
• Grants are on a first come, first served basis.
• You need to apply for the grant before you pay your Application Fees.
• Re-imbursement claims should be submitted as soon as possible but no later than end of 2022. Re-imbursement can only be paid into the SMEs bank account.
DON’T HOLD BACK!
This is an excellent initiative by the EC and EUIPO and it is a wonderful opportunity for SMEs.
However, Window 1 was undersubscribed. We understand that €4m funding has been allocated per window. Where any one window has funding left over and not used then this is carried over to the next window.
Window 2 currently has funding of €6m available and as we understand it, with only circa 700 applications made for grants as at the time of writing, there is certainly scope to avail of funding during Window 2.
Identifying what IP you have, developing an IP strategy and protecting your IP should be a part of the business strategy of all SMEs. We anticipate that the IP Scan will be available through the IPOI in the coming months.
The benefits that can accrue to the business are endless and as many business these days derive their primary value from their IP, it is essential that all SMEs grasp the importance of these assets.
Niamh Gibney is a Senior Associate Solicitor and Registered Trade Mark Agent in the Commercial Department in Reddy Charlton LLP. Niamh advises on all aspect of IP law. For more information on this topic please contact Niamh Gibney at firstname.lastname@example.org