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World IP Day

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Today is WIPO’s World IP Day. This year’s theme is “IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market”. 

Such a theme is fully in line notably with the latest IP developments of the European institutions and authorities as further described below. 

Indeed, in November 2020, the EU Commission identified in its action plan 5 key areas that should be further developed over the coming years and amongst which the boost to uptake of intellectual property rights by SMEs (here). More recently, in response to questions asked by the European Parliament about legislative changes that could help SMEs, the Executive Director of the EUIPO suggested an examination of the need for EU-level Utility Models, which could provide support for inventions, complementing the Unitary Patent, but in a quicker, and substantially less expensive manner.

How to boost the uptake of IP rights for SMEs?

The EU Commission and the EUIPO have created the “Ideas Powered for Business SME Fund”. Such fund is aimed at businesses (namely SME) that wish to develop their IP strategies and protect their IP rights, at national, regional or EU level. By covering IP pre-diagnostic services (IP scan) and/or trademark and design applications, the fund can help your business. Each SME can be reimbursed up to a maximum of 1.500,00 EUR. The fund is aimed directly at SME based in the 27 EU Member States, distributed in five phases (windows) during 2021. The 3rd window will be open on 1st May 2021 (here). Do you have any question ? We are there to assist you with your application. 

Why to boost such uptake of IP rights for SMEs? As a SME, do you still have some doubt over the added value of IP protection for your business?

We invite you reading the joint study called “Intellectual property rights and firm performance in the European Union” published by the EUIPO and the EPO at the beginning of this year and comparing the economic performance of firms that own IPRs with those that do not (here). The study aims to raise awareness of IP in particular among SMEs. The results of the study confirm the positive link between ownership of IP rights and economic performance: revenue per employee is higher for companies that are holders of IP rights, compared to those that are not. Such a link is moreover particularly strong for SMEs since SMEs with IP rights have almost 68 % more revenue per employee than SMEs with no IP rights.

What to do if your project is not concrete enough to enjoy IP protection ?

If you have new creative ideas, we invite you to fill them in a i-DEPOT on the website of the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (here). An idea as such cannot be protected. However, it may well be possible to protect a tangible expression of the idea, i.e. an actual product, process or service, by securing design, patent or trademark rights, for instance. In any case, it might be useful for you to be able to demonstrate that an idea already existed at a given point in time, for instance if a dispute arises and you want to prove that your idea takes precedence. The i-DEPOT is confidential except if you decide otherwise. It is easy to manage and cheap. If you have more interests in a more international tool, WIPO developed a similar tool last year called WIPOProof (here). That service provides a date and time stamped digital fingerprint of any file, proving also its existence at a specific point in time. 

Do you have any question ? Our IP team is there to assist you with your IP strategy and make your ideas come true. 

A special thanks to our IP specialist and artist, Adelice Meunier for her drawing !