Intellectual Property is a key driver in innovation and growth.

Innovation can often be risky, as it is expensive and time-consuming to turn ideas into new products and processes that add value to an organisation. This is where intellectual property (IP) plays an important role in balancing the risk and reward.

Providing EU businesses with tools and knowledge that allow them to understand their intellectual assets, and maximise the benefit from investments they make in innovation and creativity, is essential.

EUIPO’s Strategic Plan 2020 contains the goal: “Enhance access to the IP system and IP knowledge.” To support the achievement of this goal, the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights carries out a series of initiatives aimed at small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and individual innovators.

SMEs are the backbone of the EU economy, representing 99% of all businesses in the EU. Since 2011, they have created around 85% of new jobs and provided two-thirds of the total private sector employment in the EU.

However, studies show that most SMEs in Europe do not survive the first 2-3 years of coming into existence. The challenges are many: reaching a critical customer base, ensuring smooth sales and continuous cash flow, reporting to public authorities, etc., and of course, protecting intellectual property rights (IPRs).

SMEs and IPR: key reports:

The Intellectual Property Rights and Firm Performance in Europe report, produced by the Observatory, shows that SMEs who own IPRs have almost 32% higher revenue per employee than those who do not and also pay their employees higher wages.

The IP SME scoreboard, produced by the Observatory, shows that only 9% of SMEs in Europe own registered IP rights (patents, trademarks and designs).

The three main barriers to IP registration amongst SMEs have been identified as a lack of time, money and knowledge. The objective of the Observatory is to provide tools and services that reduce or remove these barriers so that SMEs can take informed decisions on protecting their innovations.