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SME Fund - EU funding of trademarks and designs registrations

More than 95% of all companies in Europe are small and medium-sized enterprises (so-called SMEs). They are the economic engine of the EU. However, industrial property rights are often not given the necessary attention in these companies. Yet the protection of intellectual property rights in small and medium-sized enterprises contributes to sustainable business growth. They are strategic assets that increase the value of a company and provide a solid basis against product and brand piracy.

The "Ideas Powered for Business" fund is designed to help SMEs protect their intellectual property rights, such as trademark and design rights. To this end, companies can apply for a grant of €1,000 that can be used for official fees for trademark and design applications. In total, the European Commission has made 25 million euros available for this purpose. The principle is first come, first served. Grants will be awarded until the fund is depleted.

Who can claim the SME fund?

It can be applied for by small and medium-sized enterprises based in the EU. Small and medium-sized enterprises are those with

  • up to 250 employees
  • up to 50 million euros in annual sales
  • up to 43 million euros annual balance sheet total

The grant application is submitted through the EUIPO. Once approved, a voucher for €1,000 is issued to reimburse up to 75% of the office fees for new trademark and design applications in the EU (national applications or applications for EU trademarks), and up to 50% of the office fees for international registrations. The voucher can be used for several trademarks or designs until it is fully exhausted.

For example, in the case of an EU trademark application in 3 classes, the official fee of €1,050  would be reduced to approx. €260 after crediting the voucher for €1,000. With an EU trademark, protection can be obtained in all 27 member states for 10 years.

The procedure

The application must be filed with the EUIPO. The following information is required:

  • the company's bank account details and a bank statement issued by the bank containing the name and logo of the bank, the name of the company as account holder, and the full IBAN with country code and BIC/SWIFT code;
  • a certificate issued by a national authority confirming the company's VAT/Tax Identification Number (UST/Tax ID);
  • if the application is submitted by a representative, a "declaration on honour" signed by the company and the representative.

If all formal requirements are met, the application is usually granted within 2 weeks and the voucher is issued. This must be redeemed within 2 months. Therefore, it is urgently necessary to have at least a rough idea of the trademark or design that shall be protected when filing the application for grant so that the trademark or design application can actually be initiated within the 2-month period. The voucher cannot be applied to applications already filed before the positive decision on the application for funding.

As soon as the trademark or design applications have been filed with the respective office and the office fees have been paid, the partial refund can be requested on the basis of the voucher. The refundable amount is usually transferred to the company's account indicated in the grant application within 30 days.

Before applying for SME funding and before the voucher expires

In order to ensure that the intended application can be made in good time, it is advisable to check which industrial property rights are useful and necessary for the company in question before submitting the grant application. If the company already has trademark or design protection, the focus is on checking whether this is sufficient or whether there are gaps in  protection. For example, the product portfolio of a company changes over time or the activities extend to further markets without securing the property rights for these as well. Or only the main brand has been protected so far, but not individual product designations. For SMEs that have not protected their brands and designs at all up to now, the funding now granted is a good reason to catch up on this.


The European Commission's SME fund "Ideas Powered for Business" offers small and medium-sized enterprises a good opportunity to have their intellectual property and thus valuable assets protected. Since the funds are limited, interested parties should think about filing new applications for trademarks and designs as soon as possible, either to acquire corresponding property rights for the first time or to close existing gaps in protection.

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