COS-IP-2017-2-03: IP pre-diagnostic and improving access to patent protection for innovative EU SMEs

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) only make a minimal use of the IP system. The vast majority of SMEs - 99% - do not own any patent, 91% do not own any registered trade mark, and only 0.7% own a registered design. Nine out of 10 SMEs do not own any of the above industrial property rights. Even fewer SMEs own EU-wide IP rights titles. This means that SMEs throughout the EU and throughout different sectors of economic activity are missing out on substantial growth and development opportunities. Although no cause-effect can be firmly established, SMEs that use IP generate 32% revenue more than their peers not using IP.

SMEs point out that they do not have the knowledge about and they do not see the benefits of intellectual property. An individual advice service that looks at all the products and services of the SME and its future business strategy to suggest a matching IP strategy is a response to this situation. Developed in some EU Member States, the IP pre-diagnostic or IP audit, is the exact tool that can help SMEs see the benefits of IP in their individual context and show them a how they can integrate IP in their business strategy.

SMEs also face relatively high costs of the IP system, which includes not only the application/registration fees but also the costs of external legal advice. The advice and the specific competence of a patent attorney in drafting patent applications is a necessary step to ensure the protection sought that will match the needs of the SME.

The creation of the unitary patens is designed to offer major opportunities for SMEs to ensure cheaper EU-wide protection of their intellectual property. This will allow for an easier buy-in of the unitary patent system by SMEs.

Objectives

This action intends to facilitate access for SMEs to an effective protection and enforcement of their intellectual property by informing them about the benefits of using IP rights and about the opportunities linked with this new unitary patent, and by reimbursing some of the associated cost of using the new unitary patent.

In order to maximise impact, this action will focus on highly innovative SMEs, such as, the holders of the Horizon 2020 Seal of Excellence (SoE), which are considered as companies with a particularly high potential for exploiting their intellectual property rights. In some Member States where Seal of Excellence companies are not numerous enough another method of selection of innovative companies may be used.

The specific objective of this call for proposals is to ensure the provision of administrative and reimbursement services that are necessary in relation to the implementation of the support actions to be offered to the companies.

These support actions, the provision of which is not subject to this call, will in particular:

  • provide "IP pre-diagnostics" to innovative SMEs, such as the ones holding the Seal of Excellence (in countries where there are not enough SoE holders other selection methods, identified at national level, may be used)
  • help these innovative SMEs to apply for European patents, accessing IP attorneys services in relation to these applications.

Type of activities

The activities to be carried out by the beneficiary have to cover all the six areas listed below.

  1. Setting up a Coordination Centre
  2. Setting up a website
  3. Publishing, coordinating and managing calls for expression of interest
  4. Action impact measurement
  5. Management, quality control and evaluation
  6. Reporting

The Coordination Centre will be responsible for preparing and publishing calls for applications for SMEs to express interest in being offered IP pre-diagnostic services or being reimbursed for the received support actions. These support actions (which are provided outside the framework of this call) include:

  • Free of charge advice to the SMEs on the potential of Intellectual Property to the development of their business, also referred to as "IP pre-diagnostics services (support action Type 1, as laid down in Article 6 of the Rules for Implementation. Up to EUR 1 500 per support action and varying per country. The European Commission has set the amounts of financial support per country in the table provided as Annex to the Rules for Implementation.
  • Support to innovative SMEs by covering part the costs related to filing of patents covering more than two countries, before the European Patent Office (EPO). The cost co-financed by this type of support action concerns the pre-grant fees charged by the European Patent Office (support action type 2, as laid down in Article 7 of the Rules for Implementation) and covers 75% of the European patent fee (up to a maximum of EUR 2 500 per eligible SMEs).
  • Support to innovative SMEs by co-financing the costs of external legal advice by IP attorneys to carry out the preparation of patent applications and such filings (support action type 3, as laid down in Article 8 of the Rules for Implementation). The co-financing will cover 50% of external costs of legal advice related to the granting of a European patent (up to a maximum of EUR 2 000 per eligible SME).

The European Commission and EASME expect the action to finance:

  • at least 700 type 1 support actions, and
  • at least 500 type 2 support actions, and
  • at least 500 type 3 support actions

Submission of proposals

The deadline for electronic submission is 4 September 2018, 17:00 hours (Brussels time).

Proposals must be submitted via the Participant Portal. Please note that the planned opening date is 25 July 2018.

Eligibility

Proposals may be submitted by single applicants or by consortia. All applicants must be legal entities or legal entities forming a consortium of two or more parties.

Typical entities applying to this call might be, but are not restricted to:

  • Public and private entities responsible for or active in the fields of enterprise, business support or related issues
  • Chambers of commerce and industry, chambers of (handi)crafts or similar bodies
  • Business support organisations
  • Business associations and business support networks
  • Public and private entities offering business support services
  • Profit making entities
  • Public or private entities providing IP support services

Natural persons are not eligible to apply.

Important Notice

For any technical problems encountered with the submission system, please contact the Service desk: EC-RESEARCH-IT-HELPDESK@ec.europa.eu Tel: +32 (2) 29 92222 (during office hours).

The electronic submission reference for this call is COS-IP-2017-2-03.

Information event

A general "COSME Info Day: Opportunities to Participate in Calls for Proposals" took place on 11 June 2018 at the EASME offices in Brussels. Further information is available online

Partner and previous projects search

If you are looking for partners to apply to this call, you may wish to consider using the Cordis database where you have the option to create partnership requests. For people who already have a Partner profile in Cordis database, they can select a specific COSME call when they create a partnership request. Each partnership request will then show up as being associated to the call to attract others interested in the same call.

In the case you do not have a profile, you can create one. Should you encounter any difficulties with the Cordis database, please contact the Cordis helpdesk.

You may also contact your nearest Enterprise Europe Network expert who could assist you in finding potential partners.

Another useful source of information on past and existing projects co-financed under COSME is also available through the COSME Hub.

Questions/Answers

EASME is available to answer questions relating to the content of the present call for proposals. All questions must be sent by e-mail to: EASME-COSME-IP-PRE-DIAGNOSTICS@ec.europa.eu

Answers to questions received will be published at regular intervals on the FAQ section of the participant portal. All answers related to this call will be tagged with the keyword “COSME IP Pre-diagnostics”. Please insert this keyword in the search field to find answers relating to this call.

Information to applicants on the results of the evaluation

EASME expects to be able to inform applicants on the outcome of the evaluations during the course of the fourth quarter of 2018.