After successful rollouts in China and Southeast Asia, the European Commission launched another IPR SME Helpdesk in Latin America. By providing free information and a variety of services, including legal assistance to help protect intellectual property rights, the Commission helps Europe’s SMEs benefit from the region’s continued growth.
The Mercosur IPR SME Helpdesk supports European Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to protect and enforce their Intellectual Property (IP) in Chile and MERCOSUR, the ‘Southern Common Market’ composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. In addition to these target countries, some first line advice may be given in further Latin American markets such as Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Peru.
Mercosur member countries, along with neighbouring Chile, represent a huge growth opportunity for European businesses, and especially for SMEs. At the same time, however, the region poses unique challenges to companies accustomed to doing business in Europe. Different customs, different regulations and so on mean that opportunities are accessible only after navigating various obstacles. Informed decision making as regards IP before entering new markets is a key to success.
The multilingual Helpdesk provides free of charge confidential first-line assistance on IP and related issues, plus training workshops for SMEs, on-line training materials, awareness raising actions and a wide range of resources specially designed for SMEs. The helpdesk will also liaise with local personnel, including law enforcement and legal experts, who can assist with IPR protection. These services will help ensure that discrepancies in regulations and expectations do not hinder market access to EU enterprises. Registered users will be informed about upcoming Helpdesk activities and new resources for their businesses.
Currently a survey of the Mercosur IPR SME Helpdesk is analysing until 5 March needs of potential users in order to develop an adapted training plan and improve its strategy addressed to European SMEs and Business Support Organizations. The survey will help identifying topics and formats to be chosen as well as potential events in which MERCOSUR IPR SME Helpdesk training and publications can be offered. The Helpdesk would appreciate if readers could answer the survey and spread it among interested parties.
The EU is already Mercosur’s top trading partner, accounting to 20 % of Mercosur’s trade. Mercosur, meanwhile, represents 3 % of the EU’s total trade, with EU exports to the region swelling from €28 billion in 2007 to €50 billion in 2012. Top EU exports to Mercosur include machinery and transport equipment (45 % of total exports) and chemicals (22 %). The EU is also a major exporter of commercial services – Mercosur accounted for more than €15.9 billion in EU commercial services in 2011 – as well as the top provider of foreign direct investment in the region.
The European Commission has been proactive in helping EU enterprises tap into foreign markets, which represent some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. In addition to the Mercosur IPR SME Helpdesk, the EC also supports the China, IPR SME Helpdesk and the ASEAN Helpdesk (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Among the numerous services designed to aid European SMEs – including case studies, training, events and more – these two helpdesks jointly operate the “Your IP Insider” blog, which offers news, advice and information about the Asian market.