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  • Rebekka Schiffer & Svenja Schwandt

Financial injection for securing and exploiting intellectual property rights

By effectively protecting their intellectual property, innovative companies can skillfully place their ideas on the market, secure financing, grow and create value.

As strategic assets, intellectual property rights such as patents, utility models, trademarks and designs increase the value of companies and promote innovation and earning power - also and especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Ideas Powered for business SME Fund

Proper protection of intellectual property can be a guarantee of success, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). But getting there also means certain financial hurdles that need to be overcome. This is where the "Ideas Powered for business SME Fund" support program comes in: With a grant of up to 1,500 euros for advice and registration of their intellectual property rights, the European Commission, together with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the national offices in the EU, supports small and medium-sized enterprises in securing their ideas. In addition to trademark and design matters, activities related to patents are also being supported for the first time this year. Among other things, up to 50% of patent fees and up to 75% of trademark and design fees at national level will be reimbursed. Limited funds are available for this purpose in the period from January 10 to December 16, 2022, and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The aim of the joint initiative is to make it easier for SMEs in Europe to access their property rights.

Last year, the initiative already supported around 13,000 SMEs in all 27 EU member states with more than 21,000 applications for trademark funding and 5,000 applications for design funding. "Intellectual property is part of every company's capital. Here, the better the portfolio of IP rights, the stronger the economic performance of a company," says Rebekka Schiffer, attorney-at-law and partner at COHAUSZ & FLORACK.

"It is also advisable for startups that are still at the beginning of their journey and are presenting their ideas at pitches, trade fairs or as part of collaborations to secure these in advance," explains Svenja Schwandt, patent attorney at COHAUSZ & FLORACK. "Here, the vouchers from the SME Fund can serve as a financial injection."

WIPANO funding by the BMWK

For SMEs that want to effectively protect technical innovations, it may also be worthwhile to take advantage of support from the "WIPANO - Knowledge and Technology Transfer through Patents and Standards" funding program of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK). The program supports SMEs in securing their ideas through technical property rights in the form of share funding (up to 50 percent) for eligible expenses specified in service packages. The grants can be used to cover official fees, but above all to involve patent attorneys as experts with relevant qualifications and experience. The funding covers the entire process of filing an IP application, from the review of the idea to the exploitation of the invention.

"Many SMEs do not use their intellectual property effectively in competition because they lack strategies for dealing with IP rights," warn Rebekka Schiffer and Svenja Schwandt. "While we can provide companies with our expertise and support in securing and exploiting IP rights, support programs such as WIPANO or the SME Fund also provide financial assistance, especially for smaller companies, so that they can position themselves in the market with their intellectual property.

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