Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often said to be the backbone of the European economy. However, a large proportion of their contribution to growth and job creation is in fact generated by so-called high-growth firms, some of which may become Europe’s future industry champions. As compared with other SMEs, their success frequently stems from investment in innovation and intellectual assets, and their growth typically involves international development.


Formal intellectual property rights (IPRs) such as patents, trade marks and industrial designs can be instrumental for these innovative SMEs to appropriate the value of their ideas and secure a return on their investments in intangible assets. Small businesses can leverage IPRs to secure higher margins, license technology, establish collaboration agreements and attract investors. They can also depend on IPR protection in foreign markets to scale up their activities and compete with large, established enterprises in those markets.

This report examines the relationship between IP activity and the growth prospects of European SMEs and has been produced jointly by economists from the EPO and EUIPO.

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