SMEs

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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European SME Week 2014

Coordinated by the European Commission, this campaign promotes enterprise across Europe in line with the Small Business Act for Europe with the aim to:

  • provide information on what the EU and national, regional and local authorities are offering as support to micro, small and medium-sized businesses;
  • promote entrepreneurship so that more people, and in particular younger ones, seriously consider becoming an entrepreneur as a career option;
  • give recognition to entrepreneurs for their contribution to Europe's welfare, jobs, innovation and competitiveness

The European SME Week 2014 will take place from 29 September - 5 October with the main event taking place together with the SME Assembly and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards Ceremony on 1-3 October 2014 in Naples, Italy.

For more information, please click here.

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European IPR Helpdesk Bulletin issue (14)

This summer issue of the European IPR Helpdesk Bulletin firstly presents an easy-to-use map of different free-of-charge initiatives available to assist SMEs with intellectual property related matters. Thinking on the growing relevance of designs in business, the Bulletin features an article on industrial design protection in the EU and the use of its grace period. An interview with a European agro/food biotech company underlines the relevance of IP in the biotechnology sector.

Regarding the research sector, this issue offers an interesting article on the DESCA 2020, a model consortium agreement tailored to be used in Horizon 2020. Two pieces featured by OHIM show the importance of IP enforcement via the outcomes of the first International IP Enforcement Summit and how the OHIM Academy plays a role in helping stakeholders throughout the EU.

The Innovaccess IP cost tool, a free-of-charge tool allowing the calculation of the costs related to different IP titles, the patent quiz and the Information Package on IP in Horizon 2020 complete this substantial fourteenth Bulletin issue.

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