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93% of SMEs with registered IP rights see positive impact on their business

The third edition of the Intellectual Property SME Scoreboard provides quality data on how SMEs protect their innovation and creativity in 2022.

The 2022 edition of the Intellectual Property SME Scoreboard, one of the EUIPO’s flagship studies, released today by the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights (Observatory), shows that only 10% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU own registered intellectual property (IP) rights such as national and European trade marks, designs and patents. The 2022 SME Scoreboard also shows that nearly all (93%) SMEs with registered IP rights experienced a positive impact on their business. SMEs cited improved reputation or image of the company (60%), better IP protection (58%), and better long-term business prospects (48%) due to registering their IP rights.

Why IP registration matters? 

The data from the SME Scoreboard confirms the positive impact of registration. A third of SMEs (36%) that own IP rights say that they have achieved financial gain from their registered IP rights.

Looking at the reasons for not registering, SMEs stated that the primary reason was that they did not see additional benefits from registering IP rights (35%). Other reasons mentioned include: thinking their intellectual asset was not innovative enough for registration (20%), insufficient knowledge (19%), or registration requirements not being met (19%).

IP rights infringement

The study also looks at infringement and how SMEs cope with this problem. Among the SMEs that own a registered IP right, 15% have suffered from infringement of their IP rights, resulting in a loss of turnover and reputation. 9 out of 10 of those SMEs have taken measures to enforce their IP rights.

Support for SMEs

SMEs represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. They employ around 100 million people, and account for more than half of Europe’s GDP. Despite being heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, they play a key role in every sector of the economy and are vital in driving innovation.

The EUIPO, together with the European Commission and the national and regional IP offices of the EU, has launched a set of initiatives to support EU SMEs in the field of intellectual property, including the SME Fund, set up in the wake of the pandemic and still running. This grant scheme provides financial aid to SMEs for trade mark, design and patent applications as well as for personalised IP support (‘IP Scan’). More than 30 000 businesses in the EU have applied for this initiative since it began in January 2021. 

Registration of intellectual property

When it comes to innovation, 60% of SMEs have introduced an innovation in the past 3 years. This was done most often in terms of business processes. SMEs that own registered IPRs are more innovative than those which do not (77% vs 57%). SMEs with registered IPRs are more likely to implement improvements: in their market (29% IPR owners vs 20% non-IPR owners) or in the world (6% IPR owners vs 3% non-IPR owners).

This is why the EIT has been working closely with the EUIPO to help equip Europe’s innovators with the knowledge and skills they need to protect and benefit from their IP rights, to grow their businesses and help take their ideas from concept to market. Working together with the EUIPO and our KICs, we have delivered a series of direct training courses as well as “train-the-trainer” sessions to enable the whole EIT Community to better understand and benefit from IP rights.

This study is the third edition of the SME Scoreboard series, first released in 2016 and then again in 2019.

Furthermore, this year the Observatory celebrates its 10th anniversary at the EUIPO. The Observatory’s annual plenary meeting was held on 28 and 29 September in Alicante.