Yesterday, the European Commission and the European Union Intellectual Property Office launched the new 2023 EU SME Fund, which offers intellectual property (IP) vouchers for EU-based small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This grant scheme was designed to help EU SMEs protect their IP rights, and it will run from 23 January 2023 to 8 December 2023.
EU SMEs represents 99% of all businesses and provide around three-quarters of all EU jobs. To scale up and attract investment, SMEs need to protect their intangible assets with a flexible intellectual property toolbox. The 2023 SME Fund will also support EU SMEs in their recovery from the economic crisis caused first by the COVID pandemic and then by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. It will also help SMEs to step up their digital and green transition.
The new EU SME Fund offers the following services:
- Reimburse 90% of the fees charged by Member States for IP Scan services;
- Reimburse 75% of the fees charged by intellectual property offices (including national intellectual property offices, the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the Benelux Intellectual Property Office) for trademark and design registration;
- Reimburse 50 % of the fees charged by the World Intellectual Property Office for obtaining international trade mark and design protection.
From mid-February, the SME Fund will also:
- Reimburse 75% of the fees charged by national patent offices and the European Patent Office for the registration of patents;
- Reimburse 50% of the application fees charged by the Community Plant Variety Office for the registration of new plant varieties;
- From the second half of 2023, costs of initial enforcement-related advice could be also covered.
For the first time, the 2023 SME Fund will also cover European patents to stimulate innovation and investment and plant variety protection. It will help breeders to develop more drought and pest-resistant crops and other plants and thus contribute to the EU’s green transition and food security. The IP Scan service will provide a broad assessment of the intellectual property needs of the applicant SME, taking into account the innovative potential of its intangible assets. The European Commission’s financial contribution, which amounts to EUR 5,1 million, will be dedicated fully to the services related to patents and plant varieties.
The action will be implemented by the European Union Intellectual Property Office through calls for proposals. The applications will be examined and evaluated based on a first comes first served criterion.
On 31 January, a webinar will be organised to demonstrate the new services related to IP Scan, trademarks and designs and the application process. The event will provide a practical guide on how to apply for the different services.
Registrations for the info webinar are open here!
In March a second webinar will be also held to demonstrate the services related to patents and plant varieties.
For more information, please visit the SME Fund 2023 page.