Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are 99% of the European Economy, which represent over 67% of the total employment in Europe. Intellectual property rights are vital when trying to attract the attention of potential consumers. Unfortunately, SMEs were among the many sectors that were negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic from a competitive perspective.
The European Commission, in collaboration with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), put forward a recovery plan for SMEs and will be launching a significant number of initiatives for SMEs intending to mitigate the damage the pandemic might have caused to their businesses. The recovery action plan for European SMEs includes benefits such as making IP services more accessible for smaller businesses and encouraging SMEs to increase their competitiveness through better use and protection of intellectual property rights.
One of the initiatives that will be offered by the EUIPO would be a 50% reimbursement of the application fee incurred by SMEs when applying for a trademark or design protection at a national, regional or all European level. Such an application can be processed by any national European IP office.
Trademark and Design Applications
There will be no limitations as to the number of trademarks or design applications that an SME can apply for, however, the SME will be reimbursed 50% of the basic application fees up to a maximum of €1,500. Reimbursement would only be possible if the trademark or design in question is listed in the grant application form. After applying for the grant, the SME is presented with a grant decision. If the decision is positive, the SME will have a period of 30 days to apply for the service required, and it is after this stage that the SME would be able to apply for the reimbursement.
Additionally, the EIPO will financially aid SMEs through an “SME Fund” of 20 million Euro to financially support European SMEs that wish to protect their Trademarks and Designed. Free consultations as to how one might improve or protect his/her SME’s trademark or design will be offered by attorneys working within the EIPO, as well as free dispute settlement consultations, to reach an amicable settlement for both parties and avoid taking the issue to court. The consultation services are currently only being offered in 8 European countries, with Malta not cutting, however, the list of countries will be extended over the coming months.
SMEs would have the option of either applying for one grant per service, or to apply for a mixture of both grants for the same service, without exceeding the total cost of €1,500. The latter option would only be available locally once Malta is added to the list of countries offering the grant.
One would be able to benefit from such a fund during the current year (2021) after meeting a pre-defined set of principles and criteria. Applications for the grant are open during 5 different time windows which are between the 11th-31st of January 2021, the 1st-31st of March 2021, 1st-31st of May 2021, 1st-31st of July 2021 and 1st-31st of September 2021.Read More