18th October, 2017
The European Patent Office (EPO) has recently published a set of 12 case studies providing concrete examples of how Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can use patents to their advantage and what benefits they can expect from the planned Unitary Patent.
The publication, Unlocking untapped potential: EPO SME case studies on IP strategy and IP management (epo.org/sme), aims to raise awareness of the importance of patents and other intellectual property (IP) rights for SMEs, and to help companies use the experiences and good practices described in the case studies to support their own development and growth.
According to the EPO the studies demonstrate that patents can be a springboard for success for smaller companies and make all the difference to their business, especially in gaining access to funding. They provide tangible examples of how intellectual property can be leveraged to create value, jobs and growth.
Based on extensive interviews with senior managers, the case studies provide detailed information and recommendations. They feature SMEs from 11 different countries across Europe, who work in a wide range of industries, from medical technology and biotech to ICT, energy and the environment, and employ different business models.
The studies show how companies can proactively adapt their IP strategy to real business needs, and illustrate the variety of approaches to and advantages of using IP. The EPO is of the view that they also highlight the benefits that SMEs can expect from the planned Unitary Patent. This reform is said to offer businesses a simpler alternative to the existing system, and introduces a more cost-effective route to broad and uniform patent protection and dispute resolution throughout the participating EU member states. They regard this as particularly important for smaller entities, which often have limited resources.
Accounting for nearly 30% of all patent applications at the EPO, SMEs are the backbone of the European economy. The EPO works with numerous partners to help SMEs make the best use of the IP system. The publication of this study is part of their continued efforts to support smaller companies in protecting their inventions.