Why should I care about intellectual property?
Intellectual property (IP) is your business tool to stand out from the crowd! It allows inventors and entrepreneurs like you to protect innovation, creativity and investment in know-how and quality. It is no surprise then that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owning intellectual property rights generate 68% more revenue per employee than their peers who don’t possess IP rights. SMEs for whom IP is an integral part of their business and who own a bundle of several registered rights (patents, trade marks and designs) are 33% more likely to become high growth firms.
The mere registration of IP does not guarantee success however. SMEs need to develop IP strategies, based on their business strategy, to use IP bundles in the best possible manner. Then IP becomes an indicator of good management of the company.
IP seems complicated for a small business. How do I get started?
Why have only 9% of SMEs registered an intellectual property right? Feedback shows that SMEs that do not own IP: claim to lack knowledge of IP (38%), wish to make the innovation accessible to everyone (21%), believe their asset is not innovative enough to protect (20%), or do not see the benefits of IP protection (15%).
Have you identified your intangible assets? Are you aware of the crucial parts of your business that you need to protect? You can find a lot of IP support information on our website and you can apply for some of our support programmes to help you make a more informed decision about which intangible assets to protect and how to best protect them. A decision to protect an intangible asset should not be based on beliefs but on a sound economic and legal assessment of needs and strategy.
Aren’t IP rights only for high-tech companies?
You have probably heard of Skype? Are you aware that the company grew in large part thanks to their intellectual property? According to studies, in low-technology sectors intellectual property use makes an even bigger difference: SMEs that have filed a European patent are 110% more likely to experience high growth, while in low-tech industries the figure reaches 172%.
IP can be useful in many contexts. In the current crisis that has heavily affected regions relying on tourism, non-agricultural geographical indications could boost economic recovery. They highlight the geographic uniqueness of a product produced by many small businesses in a specific region. This could help attract tourists back to that region and draw their attention to these special local products. Are you active in tourism and proud of the quality of your local knives? Think geographical indication!
See how some small businesses have used IP
Several SMEs have shared their experiences of using intellectual property. Some of them received IP-related support from the EU. Their businesses are as varied as cutlery, shoes, medical devices, 5G, cybersecurity or ball bearings. Listen to their views in these video testimonies. You could be one of them!
- BestHealth4U make materials for medical devices. They use intellectual property and IP support and say that 'IP is very important for us to answer the competition'.
- Cybertrap sell cybersecurity software. They use intellectual property and IP support and say that 'Protecting core technology is an advantage'.
- Internet Institute provides hi-tech 5G products and services. They use intellectual property and say 'Protection of innovation is key to long-term success'.
- Jimenez Brothers Knives make professional and domestic cutlery. They rely on non-agricultural Geographical Indication.
- Spindrive makes magnetic bearings and use intellectual property and IP support. They say, 'For a start-up looking for funding, it's crucial to have strong IP portfolio'.
- Yute de Caravaca make traditional shoes and espadrilles using local esparto grass. They rely on non-agricultural Geographical Indication.
See the IP support available
If you are an EU SME and you wish to get:
- IP training, guides or initial advice in relation to cross-border research and innovation or a business project supported by the Enterprise Europe Network - see the EU IP Helpdesk
- IP training, guides or initial advice in relation to operations in China, South-East Asia, Latin America or India - see the International IP Helpdesks
- Co-funding for trade mark or design applications or personalised assistance - see the IP Voucher by SME fund
- Private IP advice on a pro-bono basis or get help to solve a trade mark related dispute - see free advice or effective dispute resolution
- Personalised assistance or patent co-funding and you are a seal of excellence SME - see IPA4SME
- Personalised assistance in a collaborative project funded by the Horizon programme or initiated by the Enterprise Europe Network - see the Horizon IP Scan website
Also, stay tuned to the EU IP information Centre at the EUIPO as they update their offer.
See EU intellectual property policy
- You can find the latest policy in the Intellectual Property Action Plan (section on ‘IP uptake’)
- You can find more ideas on IP support in the European Commission staff working document, 'Putting intellectual property at the service of SMEs to foster innovation and growth'
- Publication date
- 26 April 2021
- Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs