The "Ideas Powered for business SME Fund” is a European Commission initiative implemented by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), consisting of a grant scheme designed to help SMEs in the EU have easy access to intellectual property (IP) rights.
Following a successful first grant campaign to support SMEs' access to IP rights in 2021, the EUIPO has launched a new grant campaign which started on 10 January and will run until 16 December 2022.
The program, open to all EU companies that meet the official definition of SME, offers financial support (through partial reimbursement) for the acquisition of industrial property rights -trademarks, designs and patents- up to a maximum amount of EUR 2250 per company.
The main novelties of this II Edition are:
- Inclusion of patents in the program,
- Increase in the reimbursement percentages, reaching 90% in the case of IP diagnostics, 75% in the case of trademark, design or model application fees and 50% in the case of fees relating to national patents,
- New fees eligible for reimbursement and the possibility to apply for the vouchers at any time, thus eliminating the application windows. However, the application for the voucher continues to be prior to the provision of the industrial property service.
- The application can be submitted by the owner, an employee or an authorised representative of an EU SME acting on its behalf. Grants are always transferred directly to SMEs. Funds are limited and available on the basis of the principle of first come, first served.
The activities that are eligible under the 2022 Edition of the SME Fund are of three types:
- Intellectual Property Pre-diagnosis Services (IP Scan).
In this line of subsidies, it is possible to obtain reimbursement of 90 % in the services of prior diagnosis of intellectual property (IP Scan).
- Through interviews arranged with an IP expert appointed by the national IP office (in Spain, the SPTO), who examines in collaboration with the SME its business model, products or services and growth plans in order to better determine the most appropriate IP strategy for the enterprise. IP Scan is not a legal service.
- Following the assessment, the IP expert will provide a comprehensive report on the SME's IP strategy and will propose a set of best practices and recommendations on how to manage, protect and develop its IP rights in the future.
- The IP Scan service covers all intellectual property rights (trademarks, designs, patents, utility models, plant varieties, geographical indications), as well as those that are not or cannot be registered (e.g., copyrights, trade secrets, company names, domain names).
- Trade marks and designs.
In this second line of activities, the SME can obtain the following fee reimbursements:
- 75% reimbursement of EU-wide trademark and design fees: a reimbursement of 75% of the fees for trademark and design applications, additional class fees and fees for examination, registration, publication and deferment of publication can be claimed at EU level. Registration for this type of protection must be through the EUIPO.
- -75% reimbursement of national and regional trademark and design fees: a reimbursement of 75% of the fees for trademark and design applications, additional class fees and fees for examination, registration, publication and deferment of publication can be requested at national and regional level. Registration for this type of protection must be made directly through the SPTO, another national IP office or the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (for protection at regional level covering Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg).
- 50% reimbursement of fees for trademarks and designs outside the EU: a 50% reimbursement of basic trademark and design application fees, designation fees and subsequent designation fees outside the EU can be claimed. Designation fees for EU countries are excluded, as well as the handling fees charged by the office of origin. The application for this type of protection must be made through the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
Under this third line of eligible activities, the SME can obtain reimbursement of 50% of patent fees at national level. Thus, 50% reimbursement of patent pre-grant (e.g. filing, search and examination), grant and publication fees can be claimed at national level. Registration for this type of protection must be done directly through the SPTO, another national IP office or the Benelux IP Office (for protection at regional level covering Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg).
As regards the application procedure, before an SME Fund account can be registered for the application for grants, the SME must have the following documentation:
a. The bank statement of the company containing the following details: name of the company as account holder; full IBAN number with country code; and BIC/SWIFT code.
b. VAT certificate or SME national registration number certificate issued by the competent national authority.
c. If the SME employs the services of a representative, an affidavit, signed by an authorised owner or employee of the SME, must be submitted.
Once in possession of such documentation the SME must follow the following process:
• The SME must register, log in to its "SME Fund account"and apply form.
• Once the application is approved, the SME will receive a grant award notification and the voucher(s). The SME can then apply for the IP activities that are needed.
• To be reimbursed for the IP activities the SME has applied for, it must apply once the activities haven been paid, using the form available in the SME Fund account*.
Vouchers are valid for four months from the time the SME receives the grant and can be extended for a further period of two months -this has to be done during the last 30 days of the original four-month period if necessary. During this period, the SME can apply and pay for the IP activities and then claim the corresponding reimbursement, thus activating its voucher(s).
Once the SME has activated its voucher(s), there is an "application period" during which it can apply for further activities and claim additional reimbursement. This period lasts:
- 6 months for Voucher 1
- 12 months for Voucher 2
In each case, the SME has a maximum of an additional thirty days to apply for reimbursement after the "application period".
Vouchers are not retroactive; costs for activities implemented before obtaining the grant decision cannot be reimbursed.
As regards the timetable applying to this 2nd Edition of SME Fund Grants, the call for proposals will be opened according to the following tentative timetable:
Deadline for submission of the call -------- from 10.1.2022 to 16.12.2022.
Evaluation of applications submitted during the deadline--------- weekly deadline: every Friday
Evaluation and notification period--------10 working days after the deadline.
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