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EU SME Fund Reopens to Support Intellectual Property Protection

LAWEU SME Fund Reopens to Support Intellectual Property Protection

On Monday, another edition of the SME Fund was launched. Micro, small, and medium-sized companies from the EU can obtain funding to cover official fees related to the protection of industrial property, such as registration of trademarks and inventions. This applies both to protection in Poland and across the EU. The subsidy amounts range from 1,000 to 3,500 euros, depending on the chosen voucher. Ukrainian companies can also benefit from the funding. The previous edition of the SME Fund was hugely popular with domestic entities – they were the second largest group applying for funding after Spain.

“A new edition of the SME Fund programme has launched, allowing entrepreneurs to apply for funding to cover the costs of intellectual property protection. Entrepreneurs can get a refund of official fees for the registration of trademarks, industrial designs, inventions, and new plant varieties. The programme started on January 22, and since then, entrepreneurs can apply for funds”, says Monika Chrobak from the Department of Innovation and Communication in the Polish Patent Office, which conducts informational activities and invites SMEs to apply for funds.

The program is open to entrepreneurs who have their headquarters in the EU and Ukraine. The amount of funds is limited – the budget for this year’s edition is 20 million euros – so the sequence of applications decides. The institution providing this grant is the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

“The procedure is very simple and friendly for entrepreneurs, just register on the website of the European Union Intellectual Property Office. There is a special Polish-language subpage, which simply explains the rules for applying for this grant “, says Monika Chrobak.

The application can be submitted by the owner, employee, or authorized representative acting on behalf of the company. The grants are awarded to SMEs, and the refund is transferred directly to the entrepreneur’s indicated bank account. Due to Russian aggression against Ukraine, the program was also made available to micro, small, and medium-sized companies from Ukraine that registered economic activity in Poland, and those that have such status in Ukraine.

The SME Fund offers four different vouchers, allowing you to apply for a refund of activities related to intellectual property. Among them are vouchers for the registration of new trademarks and industrial designs, under which a company can get a refund of 75% of registration fees within the national procedure in EU member states or to EUIPO, and a refund of 50% of fees in case of registration outside the EU, i.e. to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The maximum amount to be gained under this voucher is 1,000 euros. In the case of a voucher for registering inventions, entrepreneurs from the EU and Ukraine can get a refund of up to 3,500 euros, with thresholds of 75% and 50% depending on the place of application. Meanwhile, for the registration of new plant varieties to the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO), entrepreneurs are entitled to a refund of up to 1,500 euros. A fourth voucher – IP Scan – will be launched in the second quarter of this year.

“Poland ranks very well among the countries applying for this funding. We are in second place, just behind Spain. Last year there were over 4,000 applications from Poland, and the subsidy awarded to Polish companies amounted to over 1.7 million euros”, says the UPRP expert.

This demonstrates that knowledge about industrial property protection and the benefits associated with it is growing among Polish companies.

“This is primarily a financial saving and image benefits. Research shows that small and medium-sized enterprises that have protection of intellectual property items generate 68% higher income per employee than companies that do not have such protection. What’s more, their employees are also better paid. This is confirmed by research conducted by the European Union Intellectual Property Office – explains Monika Chrobak. “In the era of digitization, intellectual property protection is crucial. It allows entrepreneurs to avoid copying their products and using them for wrong purposes. They have a legal tool that allows them to protect unique ideas and solutions.”

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