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SME Fund 2022


















The SME Fund provides financial support to EU small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the protection of their intellectual property (IP) rights. SMEs can apply for vouchers that will provide access to a partial refund. The offer is broad:
 
  • 90% reimbursement for IP pre-diagnostic services (IP Scan). 
  • 75% reimbursement of trade mark and/or design application fees, additional class fees, and examination, registration, publication and deferment of publication fees at EU level. 
  • 75% reimbursement of trade mark and/or design application fees, additional class fees, and examination, registration, publication and deferment of publication fees at national and regional level. 
  • 50% reimbursement of trade mark and/or design basic application fees, designation fees, and subsequent designation fees outside the EU. Designation fees originating in EU countries are excluded, as are handling fees charged by the office of origin. 
  • 50% reimbursement of patent pre-grant (e.g. filing, search, and examination), grant, and publication fees at national level.

The maximum reimbursable amount per SME is:
 EUR 750 for patent-related activities and EUR 1 500 for the other activities.

You can apply from 10 January 2022 to 16 December 2022. The SME Fund 2022 has limited funds. If the funds are exhausted, applications will be closed before the indicated date.

All SMEs established in the EU are eligible to apply for a grant. Owners, authorised employees or representatives can apply. A representative is defined as any third party, whether a natural or legal person, who is duly authorised by the SME to represent it legally. All grant reimbursements are deposited directly into the bank account of the SME indicated in the application.

Your company must be a valid SME established within the EU. Please review the official EU definition of an SME to ensure that your company is eligible. In general, EU SMEs are categorised as follows:
 
Enterprise category Staff headcount Annual turnover Annual balance sheet total
Medium-sized <250 ≤ € 50 m ≤ € 43 m
Small <50 ≤ € 10 m ≤ € 10 m
Micro <10 ≤ € 2 m ≤ € 2 m

No, not unless it is engaged in an economic activity. Please refer to the definition of an SME established by the European Commission for details.

Yes, but only the SME can benefit from the grant if it is awarded.
 
If your SME uses the services of a representative or you are a representative acting on behalf of an SME, you must have filled out the ‘declaration of honour’ (template) document. This document must be signed by an authorised member of the SME and saved as a PDF file. You will need to upload this during the application process.

Yes, a representative can register and pay for trade mark, design, and patent application fees on behalf of your SME. This representative can also submit the subsequent ‘request for reimbursement’. However, the reimbursement will be paid directly into the SME’s bank account as the beneficiary of the grant decision.

Yes. Even if you have already been awarded a grant for an IP activity from the SME Fund 2021, you can also apply for a SME Fund grant in 2022, regardless of whether you have initiated a service or have already been reimbursed. These initiatives are independent from each other. EU SMEs may apply each year to the SME Fund, provided that they comply with the conditions set out in the call for proposals, even if they have had applications awarded or rejected in previous calls. During the application stage, beneficiaries must also declare whether they applied for or received any other EU funding in the same financial year for the same activities.

Read the following checklist carefully before applying to ensure that you have the necessary documentation ready to upload.
 
CHECKLIST
 
  • Your company/enterprise must be an established EU small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • You must have read the call for proposals before completing the application form. 
  • If you are a representative or will use the services of a representative, you must have filled out the ‘declaration of honour’ (template) document. This document must be signed by an authorised member of the SME and attached to the application form in PDF format. 
  • You must have your company’s bank details ready along with a bank statement where the following details appear: company name as account holder; full IBAN number with country code; and BIC/SWIFT code. 
  • You must have your company’s VAT certificate or national registration number certificate, issued by the appropriate national authority. 
  • You must understand that you cannot request the SME Fund grant if you have already received EU funding for the same or part of the same activity.

Grants are distributed in the form of vouchers that can be used for a variety of IP activities.
 
  1. Voucher 1 (maximum EUR 1 500) can be used for an IP scan as well as for registering trade marks, and/or designs. 
  2. Voucher 2 (maximum EUR 750) can be used to register patents. 
Please check the list of fees covered in the call for proposals.
 
Your SME may therefore be eligible to receive up to EUR 2 250.

Your SME may request reimbursement as the beneficiary of the grant, or a representative may do so on your SME’s behalf. Reimbursements will always be paid directly into your SME’s bank account.

No, your SME must first apply for a grant and wait for the EUIPO to respond with a grant decision.

No, you must wait to receive an affirmative grant decision and the corresponding voucher or vouchers.

Yes, the SME Fund has EUR 25 million available for IP scans and trade mark or design applications, and EUR 1 million available for patent registrations. Grants are available throughout 2022 on a first come, first served basis until all available funds have been used.


It depends on the needs of the SME. Apply for an IP scan for more information.
 
Firstly, you need to identify where you want to sell, distribute, operate or license your products or services. Is your business cross-border or is it limited to one region or country? Do you operate online? Bear in mind that registered intellectual property rights are territorially limited. That means that you need to register your rights in a particular territory. You can either register your rights at national, regional or EU level.
 
Please note that you can also choose to register your trade mark or design in several Member States. For example, if you need to operate in two countries, you can register your rights in those two countries via two different procedures.
 
If your product or service is going to be sold, distributed, exploited or licensed in many Member States, then you might consider seeking protection at EU level, using the EUTM or RCD system.
 
Moreover, if you need to designate a country outside the EU, you can use the Madrid or Hague systems available through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
 
In all cases, please do not hesitate to make use of the pro bono service and/or IP Scan service.

You can find detailed information on the Ideas Powered for business SME Fund in the call for proposals.

If you have any questions, you can refer to our Frequently Asked Questions or chat with us online in English, French, German, Italian or Spanish. We are available Monday to Friday from 8.30 to 18.30 (GMT+1).

You can also send us an email enquiry in any one of the EU official languages: information@euipo.europa.eu.

 

Activities included

 

IP pre-diagnostic service (IP Scan)


 





IP pre-diagnostics is a key tool for developing your SME’s intellectual property strategy. Designated IP experts from national intellectual property offices analyse your SME’s business model, products, and/or services to create an IP strategy tailored to your SME’s needs.
 
This service can help you decide what IP rights to apply for, how to develop your company’s IP portfolio, and how to plan for the future if you already have registered IP rights.
 
SMEs that wish to apply for an IP pre-diagnostic service (IP Scan), must be established in a country where an eligible IP pre-diagnostic provider is available, as published in the call for proposals.

IP Scan does not constitute a legal service and is not a pre-filing, a novelty search or a state of the art search.

IP Scan covers all IP rights: patents, trade marks, designs, utility models, plant varieties, geographical indications, and non-registered/non-registrable assets such as trade secrets, copyrights, unregistered designs, and company names, domain names, etc.

Within the framework of the SME Fund, the IP Scan service is not offered in all EU Member States. To check whether this service is offered in your country, either by the national IP office or by an authorised external partner, please consult the following list.
 
Note that some national IP offices may offer similar IP pre-diagnostic services outside the scope of the SME Fund. Should you be interested in having an IP scan performed, you can contact your national IP office for further information.
 
To check whether this activity is offered in your country and whether or not it is covered by the SME Fund, please consult the table below.
 
National IP offices offering IP Scan covered by the SME Fund National IP offices offering an activity similar to IP Scan not covered by the SME Fund
Belgium Austria
Bulgaria Croatia
Cyprus Denmark
Czech Republic France
Finland Hungary
Germany Luxembourg 1
Ireland Luxembourg 2
Latvia Poland
Lithuania Slovakia
Portugal Slovenia
Sweden Spain

For detailed information on what is offered in specific countries, visit the SME Fund home page and choose a country from the ‘country selector’.

Your national IP office will assign an IP expert to you. First, you will be asked to complete a self-assessment survey. Then the IP expert will conduct interviews with you to determine the most appropriate IP business strategy for your company. The report prepared by the IP expert will then go through a ‘quality check’ performed by your national IP office. A ‘proof of payment’ document will be delivered by your national IP office to enable you to request the reimbursement of fees from your SME Fund account area.
 
Please note that the time required to perform the IP Scan will vary depending on each business case. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete.

Once you have received a grant, and the corresponding voucher, you can contact your national IP office and request an IP Scan.
 
The IP Scan is not offered in all EU Member States within the framework of the SME Fund. Some national intellectual property offices offer similar IP pre-diagnostic services outside the scope of the SME Fund. To check if this activity is available in your country, please refer to the question ‘Who performs an IP Scan?’.

 

Trade mark, design, and patent registration


 







No, renewals are not refundable.

Your SME can request:
 
  • 75% reimbursement of trade mark and/or design application fees, additional class fees, and examination, registration, publication and deferment of publication fees at EU, national, and regional levels. 
  • 50% reimbursement of trade mark and/or design basic application fees, designation fees, and subsequent designation fees outside the EU. Designation fees originating in EU countries are excluded, as are handling fees charged by the office of origin. 
  • 50% reimbursement of patent pre-grant (e.g. filing, search, and examination), grant, and publication fees at national level in the EU. 
Please check the limits and the list of fees covered in the call for proposals.
 
The territorial level of protection selected will depend on the SME’s business strategy and growth plans. If the SME is unsure of what to apply for or where, an IP pre-diagnostic service (IP Scan) could help to make the right choice.
 
A pro bono service (free consultation) is also available for SMEs needing guidance in this regard.

Yes, but before you apply you must ensure that you hold a value added tax number (VAT) or a taxpayer identification number (TIN).

No, the registration fees of a utility model are not eligible for reimbursement. You can apply to be reimbursed for fees linked to the registration of trade marks, designs, or patents, as specified in the call for proposals.

No, to be eligible for reimbursement, you must register your patent in a Member State of the European Union.

The SME Fund 2022 only reimburses the search fees that are part of the application procedure for a patent. Research fees that are performed prior to the application procedure are excluded from reimbursement.

There is no limit to the number of IP rights (trade marks, designs or patents) that your SME can register. However, the total amount for a possible grant is limited to a maximum of EUR 2 250.
 
  • EUR 1 500 to partially cover an IP scan, as well as trade mark and design fee expenses.
  • EUR 750 to partially cover national patent fee expenses. 
Please check the limits and the list of fees covered in the call for proposals.

National trade marks and designs can be registered at any of the national intellectual property offices of the EU (offering national protection), at the Benelux Office of Intellectual Property (offering regional protection in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg), or at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (the EUIPO, offering protection in all Member States of the EU).
 
Outside the EU, trade marks and designs can be registered at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
 
Patent applications may be submitted at any of the national IP offices of the EU.

 

Application process and required information


 






The SME Fund account area is where users can go to:
  • apply for specific activities covered by the 2022 SME Fund by filling out the application form
  • fill out the reimbursement form to request the partial reimbursement of paid activities
  • check the balance of your vouchers
  • check voucher activation and implementation terms

It is very important that the name in the ‘Company’ field is exactly the same as the company name that appears in your VAT/TIN document and on your bank statement. Please make sure that all the information coincides.
 
You should take care to indicate the complete IBAN number for your company’s bank account, exactly as it appears on your company’s bank statement (including the country code).
 
All documents should be clearly legible. If you need to scan a physical document, please use a scanner and save it as a PDF file. Photographs of documents using a smartphone or digital camera are not permitted.

You can and should provide more than one email address to ensure that all communications are received. If you do not receive any emails from the SME Fund team shortly after submitting your application, please check your spam folder or contact the EUIPO.

You must indicate the company name exactly as it appears on your SME’s VAT/TIN certificate and on your bank statement.

Please consult this document to see the correct VAT number formats for EU countries, including the country code.
 
For applicants considered tax exempt by their competent national authority and with an equivalent tax identification number (TIN), you will need to provide the relevant certificate issued by said authority, demonstrating the legal existence of your company. If the structure of the tax identification number is different from the VAT number structure, please perform the following when encoding the information.
 
  • If the tax identification number has the same number of digits but is missing a country code, it must be preceded by the country code.Example: the VAT number structure is EU12345678 and the tax identification number is 12345678. Applicants should enter EU12345678.
  • If the tax identification number includes the country code but does not have the same number of digits, it must be followed by the letter ‘X’ until the required number of digits has been reached.Example: the VAT number structure is EU12345678 and the tax identification number is EU123456. Applicants should enter EU123456XX.
  • If the tax identification number does not include the country code and does not have the same number of digits, it must be preceded by the country code and followed by the letter ‘X’ until the required number of digits has been reached.Example: the VAT number structure is EU12345678 and the tax identification number is 123456. Applicants should enter EU123456XX.

Your company’s bank statement or bank certificate must indicate the account holder (this must be the same as the company name), the bank name, the full IBAN account number (including the country code) and the BIC/SWIFT code. A stamp from the bank and the signature of the bank’s representative are not required (see example here).

 

Grant award procedure


 





  1. Acknowledgement of your application via email may take up to 60 minutes to arrive. 
  2. If you do not receive an email within 60 minutes, please check that you have indicated the correct email address. We recommend providing more than one email address when you make the application. 
  3. Check your spam/junk/unwanted email folder. We recommend adding communications from us to your safe sender list to avoid this issue in future. 
  4. If, after checking the above, you have still not received acknowledgement, please contact information@euipo.europa.eu for assistance. 
This email should not be taken as an indication that the application has been approved, only that it was submitted. Applicants will be notified individually in a separate email of the results of the evaluation process as stated in the call for proposals.

The EUIPO reviews all applications. If the Committee requires clarification for any documents or information provided, you will receive a notification via email.

If, after submitting your application, you decide NOT to continue with the process, please send an email to grants.smefund@euipo.europa.eu, attaching your application acknowledgement email and indicating: ‘I would like to withdraw my application for the SME Fund grant’.

Simply follow the instructions indicated in the email you receive requesting clarification. Make sure that you provide the information requested and attach the necessary documents, if required. We will update your application accordingly.

After reviewing your application, the Evaluation Committee will inform you of the outcome, which may be any one of the following: a grant award, a request for further information or a rejection. These notifications will be sent via email and SMS. You may also receive notifications regarding the expiry of your voucher/s via email and SMS.

 

Using the voucher


 








Once you have received the grant decision and any corresponding vouchers, you should apply and pay for at least one activity before the voucher or vouchers expire (vouchers are valid for up to 4 months, although this can be extended by an additional 2 months if requested during the last 30 days of the original 4-month period).
 
Once you have received the grant, paid for at least one of your selected activities, and submitted the reimbursement form (attaching the required proof of payment), your vouchers will be activated. Once activated, you will have:
 
  • For Voucher 1: a 6-month implementation period from the moment the voucher is activated, to pay for and request reimbursement of additional fees covered by voucher 1 (this can be subsequent fees or new IPRs). 
  • For Voucher 2: a 12-month implementation period from the moment the voucher is activated, to pay for and request reimbursement of additional fees related to previously requested activities. Within the same time period you may apply for additional activities, pay the corresponding fees, and request reimbursement. 
Applicants also have a grace period of 30 days to request reimbursement for fees paid once the implementation period has ended.

Yes, vouchers are valid for 4 months, although this can be extended by an additional 2 months if requested during the last 30 days of the original 4-month period. You must apply for at least one activity and request its reimbursement within this validity period, otherwise the voucher will expire and you will not be entitled to any reimbursement.

If a voucher is not used by the beneficiary of the grant, the allocated budget is released and these funds are then available to new applicants.

No, each voucher can only be granted to the same participant once a year. This is independent of the subsequent usage (or expiration) of the voucher. However, you will be able to apply again in 2023.

Initially, vouchers have a 4-month validity period which may be extended by 2 months if you need more time to use them. To extend a voucher’s validity, you should visit your SME Fund account area to request an extension. This can only be done during the last 30 days of the initial 4-month period.

A participant can only be awarded one grant decision per voucher per year. If your voucher has expired, you can’t apply for the same voucher during the SME Fund 2022. However, you will be able to apply again in 2023.

No, within the time periods stipulated above, you may request activities and the corresponding reimbursement at any time. Please refer to the relevant FAQs above.

Voucher 1 and Voucher 2 are independent and can be applied for at the same time or at different times within the scope of the 2022 SME Fund (between 10 January 2022 and 16 December 2022). Each voucher can only be requested once.

You will still be reimbursed. No distinction is made between successful and unsuccessful applications with regard to the grant process.

Your intellectual property office will inform the EUIPO that your SME has started an IP Scan. This activates the voucher. You will receive a notification confirming the activation of the voucher.

 

Reimbursement process


 



In general, reimbursement occurs as follows:
 
  • Once you have paid for your activities, log in to your SME Fund account, fill out the reimbursement form, and upload the required proof of payment. 
  • You will receive an email acknowledging the receipt of your request for reimbursement. Please note that this can take up to 60 minutes. 
  • Subject to the approval of the information on your form and your proof of payment, a deposit will be made within 1 month directly into the SME’s bank account.

The grant will be paid into the SME’s bank account indicated on the application form.

No, you have to wait to receive a successful grant decision and your voucher or vouchers.

Yes, but only if your voucher has not yet expired. If your reimbursement request is accepted, your voucher will be activated, and the implementation period will start. During the implementation period, it is possible to request reimbursement for other eligible fees.

Page last updated 04-01-2022
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