SMEs

IP leverage for biotechnical innovations

Biotechnology is a field where technology advances rapidly. For this reason, it is vital for any company operating in this sector to protect the innovations that they generate with Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

In this case study you can see the example of Keygene, an SME that has been able to reap the entire benefit from their intellectual property capital by setting an IP strategy from the outset in line with their core business and put it into operational phases via proper IP management.

Thanks to this IP awareness and the implementation and constant revision of the company’s IP strategy, Keygene is leading the agro-food biotech sector in the EU market. Furthermore, they succeeded in expanding their B2B activities, supplying their products to seeds companies worldwide.

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PCT fee reductions for SMEs

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) assists applicants in seeking patent protection internationally for their inventions, helps patent offices with their patent granting decisions, and facilitates public access to a wealth of technical information relating to those inventions.  By filing one international patent application under the PCT, applicants can simultaneously seek protection for an invention in 148 countries throughout the world.

Reduction of up to 90% in certain PCT fees (Transmittal, International Filing, Search and Preliminary Examination) may be available to qualifying Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) under certain conditions. 

Further information is available in the PCT fee tables here.

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IP relevance in the SME Instrument

Selected highly innovative, ambitious and passionate small- or medium-sized enterprises (SME) with global ambitions are given the unique opportunity to receive excellent business resources and mentorship as well as substantial funding within the SME Instrument, which is part of the Horizon 2020 programme.

In a highly competitive process, the European Commission (EC) identifies the most promising companies among some of the European SMEs to invest in and support as part of the SME Instrument. Selected companies could receive up to €2.5 million in funding, and world-class business support and mentorship.

This fact sheet helps in identifying the most relevant intellectual property (IP) aspects that applicants should take into account when writing proposals and drafting the business plans needed in the first two Phases. Indeed, in the SME Instrument as in any other funding scheme, identifying the IP is essential to demonstrate that your project is innovative and has a commercial impact. Sound IP management is also essential to attract investors during the commercialisation Phase.

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Intellectual property considerations for medical devices

Medical devices have become increasingly important in society given their impact on the health sector and also in the economy.

According to the European Commission, in 2007 the medical device and diagnostics industry employed 529,000 people across Europe. With total sales of €72.6 billion, representing 33% of world market share (€219 billion), it is the second largest market after the USA. Moreover, this sector includes almost 11,000 companies, of which 80% are SMEs. The Commission estimates that in 2007 these companies invested €5.8 billion in Research and Development (R&D) (i.e. 8% of total sales).

Intellectual property (IP) is essential to protect these investments and therefore SMEs in this sector cannot afford not to manage their IP well. With this in mind, the European IPR Helpdesk has published a new fact sheet on the IP considerations for medical devices, which was written by Arty Rajendra and Mary Smillie, solicitors at Rouse Legal.

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Business Skills for Successful Entrepreneurship

To encourage better understanding and management of IP, Ideas Matter has issued a brochure as a compilation of the best online training and information resources available to start-up companies and small enterprises. These resources represent a significant investment by specialized organizations, yet almost all are freely available, because these organizations understand that good management of IP by entrepreneurs can not only help individual businesses, but also benefit society more broadly.

Entrepreneurs must master many skills to build a business. To make that process easier, the resources in this brochure offer some help with basic IP skills training to enable entrepreneurs to manage their valuable assets in ways that could determine the level of their success.

The brochure can be downloaded freely here.

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EPO launch of new online filing tool

Continuing to improve the quality of services to its users by establishing a one-stop shop for applicants, the European Patent Office (EPO) has launched a new system for the online filing of patent applications.

"The launch of the new online filing system version 1.8 today constitutes a further significant move on the way to modernising the EPO's IT services as agreed with our member states," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "Following on to the successful launch of the mailbox, the new system supports the overall strategy of the Office to equip the European patent system with the best possible IT environment in order to reduce administrative costs for applicants. It also helps to align the European and PCT procedures under the same tool," he added.

Accessible through a browser interface, the new online filing system is web-based and does not require any installations or security updates by the user, which responds directly to a long-standing request of patent applicants. It fully supports patent applications filed both under the European Patent Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty, also including subsequently filed documents for both procedures.

For more information, please click here.

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Defending and enforcing IP

Starting from an overall understanding of the relevance of IP “from the idea to the market”, the aim of this new fact sheet is to point out that in order to enforce IP rights it is vital that organisations be aware of the intangible assets they own and take steps to protect and properly manage them. In so doing, organisations having IP as an underlying business asset will be less susceptible to IP abuses.

Should an IP right infringement occur it is suggested that alternative mechanisms to resolve disputes are explored and that, only when this is not a viable solution, you enforce your rights through legal proceedings.

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Public consultation on the Small Business Act

The aim of this public consultation is to gather feedback and ideas on how the Small Business Act for Europe should be revised to continue a strong European policy to support Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs in 2015-2020. The four key areas of the SBA - facilitating SMEs’ access to finance and to markets, reducing administrative burden and promoting entrepreneurship - will continue to be priorities in the years to come.

The Commission has taken action to strengthen the dialogue with SMEs. The TOP 10 public consultation in 2012 provided direct feedback from SMEs and their representative organisations on the pieces of EU legislation which are perceived as particularly burdensome.

Through the Small Business Act revision the Commission proposes to explore the possibility to lower the transaction costs/fees for SMEs to facilitate their access to industrial and intellectual property.

For further information and to participate to the consultation, please click here.

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Intellectual Property considerations for business websites

A growing number of European SMEs are going online, by launching and maintaining business websites, often even providing their clients with the possibility to buy products online. As a central company asset, websites should be protected and well managed. Intellectual property is in this regard crucial, since there will be a number of intellectual property rights which exist in your website.

This fact sheet aims to guide you through the most important steps which you should take to protect the website that you intend to launch or have already launched, and avoid the risks of infringing the rights of others.

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Confidentiality considerations during project preparation

To enable more efficient administration in setting up a Horizon 2020 proposal, a consortium has agreed to make use of cloud server software, where all partners could easily keep in contact with each other and share information.

However, one of the SMEs involved in these negotiations was concerned about the disclosure of information to the partners through the cloud without any prior agreement between the partners. At the same time, however, the period for the preparation of the proposal was of six months duration and therefore the SME was concerned about finding an easy and quick solution, to avoid losing time that should be used for the preparation of the proposal.

In this case study you can see how this consortium easily overcame confidentiality concerns and was able to reach an optimal solution for all partners involved.

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