SMEs can receive a grant from EU funds to protect their intellectual property

Startups with ideas “still on paper” as well as established companies can draw funding from an EU grant to protect their intellectual property. It does not matter whether they already have an IP strategy in place and just want to check it independently or whether they have not yet looked at the protection of their IP at all.

SMEs established in the European Union, i.e. companies with less than 250 employees, an annual turnover of up to EUR 50 million and a balance sheet total of up to EUR 43 million, can apply for the EU grant. Businesses that have benefited from (or applied for) this grant in previous years can also apply.

What can applicants use the grant for?

The first service for which a grant can be used is the so-called IP scan. An IP scan serves as a comprehensive examination of an IP strategy. The applicant for this service fills out a questionnaire about their IP strategy and is then put in contact with an expert (most often attorney) appointed by the Industrial Property Office. This expert, together with the applicant, will review the company’s present IP strategy and then issue a report summarising the risks arising from the company’s current IP set-up and will recommend what strategy to implement or how to improve the existing one, both in the area of registered IP (trademarks, domain names, patents, etc.) and in the area of unregistered IP (know-how, copyrights, etc.). The final report is approved by the Industrial Property Office and is, therefore, of high quality. The cost of the service in the Czech Republic is uniformly set at EUR 900, with a grant from the European Union covering EUR 810 retroactively. You will therefore end up paying only EUR 90, i.e. about CZK 2,100, for this comprehensive service.

The grant may also be used for fees associated with the registration of a trademark or design (however, not fees for the legal services, if any). The grant can be used to cover 75% of the cost of fees for EU and national trademark or design registrations and 50% for international trademark registration fees. In this case, the amount saved varies according to the situation. The fee for registering an EU trademark for three classes of goods and services is EUR 1 050, in which case the saving from the grant would be EUR 788, and the company would only pay EUR 262 for the registration. The fee for registering a national trademark for three classes of goods and services is CZK 5,000, in which case the grant would cover CZK 3 750, and the company would only pay CZK 1,250 for the registration.

How to apply for the grant?

Applications are collected every Friday. Within 10 working days of collection, the company is notified whether it has been awarded the grant and vouchers are sent to the company to redeem the grant. These vouchers must be used (i.e. an IP scan ordered, the fees paid and a claim for reimbursement submitted) within two months, which may be extended for a further two months, otherwise the vouchers will expire. However, any services covered by the voucher (ordering an IP scan, registering a trademark) must be provided after the grant has been approved and the vouchers have been received, as the vouchers cannot be used for retroactive reimbursement of services.

The collection of applications is open until 8 December 2023. However, the entire grant is budget-constrained, and applications are processed in the order in which they are submitted. It is, therefore, possible that the grant will be exhausted earlier, so it is advisable to file an application as soon as possible.

If you are not sure how to proceed, we recommend using the services of experts who have been working in this field for a long time and can provide you with a complete service related to the grant described above. Companies such as our law firm Deloitte Legal can, for example, file the grant application for you, process the trademark application, provide all related services or help you implement the recommended steps from the final IP scan report. Ideally, they will be able to advise you on all IP law services.

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