According to most recent studies, only 9% of European SMEs have registered IP rights. During the Covid-19 crisis, IP registration numbers have dropped. While analysis shows that the reluctance to use IP rights is largely due to lack of knowledge
about IP, the system is often considered too costly (and also too complex and difficult to navigate).
The EUIPO for this reason considers to grant financial support, or issue IP vouchers, to SMEs, helping them to manage their IP portfolios. As of 1 January 2021, an overall budget of 20 million EUR will be made available - and shall cover partial reimbursement for trademark and design registration and a contribution towards an IP audit.
This will likely cause some noise, but another issue seems to be that SMEs are not taking full advantage of the valuation and commercial exploitation of their IPRs. IPRs are key assets in the value of a firm and as an indicator of its technological and growth capabilities. But many SME's do not adopt appropriate strategies to valorize and monetize their IP assets. And this is (also) caused by lack of knowledge about IP. So let's wait and see whether the financial support will have a sustainable impact.
“Europe is home to some of the world's leading innovations, but companies are still not fully able to protect their inventions and capitalise on their intellectual property. Today, we are proposing to overhaul our intellectual property system to strengthen Europe's ability to develop next generation technologies, reflect advances in data and AI; allow companies to quickly pool their knowledge in times of crisis, and support Europe's path towards economic recovery and the green transition.”