The new edition of the Intellectual Property (‘IP’) SME Helpdesks for China, South-East Asia, Latin America and India was just launched by the European Commission.
The new edition, launched by the Directorate General Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs and the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) of the European Commission, complements the European IP Helpdesk and the African IP Helpdesk.
Objectives and tasks
The new edition of the Intellectual Property Helpdesks intends to provide free-of-charge assistance relating to intellectual property issues to SMEs doing business with or in the target markets, based in the EU and in Single Market Programme (SMP) countries.
This service consists in providing ‘first-line’ assistance, which does not extend, for instance, to the drafting of patent applications or of contracts, so as not to compete with existing law firms or other operators.
As mentioned in full detail in the related call for tenders, objectives of this new edition of the Helpdesks are to:
- improve the awareness of EU SMEs about intellectual property rules and practices in the target markets;
- improve the capacity of EU SMEs to manage and protect their intellectual property in relation to the target markets, including developing a basic intellectual property strategy for SMEs doing business in or with these countries;
- facilitate the implementation of such an intellectual property strategy providing services within the competences of each international intellectual property SME Helpdesk, or by identifying and facilitating contacts with external service providers or authorities such as intellectual property Offices before and once EU SMEs have entered the target markets;
- facilitate the strengthening of links and cooperation opportunities between EU SMEs and economic operators in the target markets in respect of the protection and enforcement of the intellectual property rights.
To achieve these objectives, the contractors will implement 6 main tasks:
- provide individual first-line advice on intellectual property (IP) matters in the target markets to queries from EU SMEs;
- develop a training programme addressed to EU SMEs on the use and management of IPs in the target market context;
- provide support to EU SMEs during business match-making events relevant to the target market;
- provide bi-annual reports on intellectual property challenges faced by EU SMEs in the target market (per lot); submit data to the intellectual property enforcement portal of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EU IPO) and attend meetings with the EU Delegation to the countries of the target market and local EU Member States representatives;
- provide general intellectual property information on-line concerning both the target markets and the EU intellectual property landscape
provide general intellectual property information at relevant awareness-raising events.
How to reach out to potentially interested SMEs?
The main targets of the new edition of the Helpdesk are SMEs doing business with or the target markets, established in EU Member States and in SMP countries.
Relevant communication channels therefore include, amongst others:
- chambers of commerce and industry federations of these countries;
- Member States’ embassies;
- the EU Delegations to the relevant countries,
- relevant European Commission websites and newsletters
Achievements of the IP SME Helpdesks during the 2018-2022 edition
Over the last 4 years (only 2 for India) and despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IP SME Helpdesks have proven an outstanding tool to reach and support SMEs with trade interests in the target markets in IP matters. Some of the tangible results are:
- Over 15 000 stakeholders directly involved.
- 7830 queries received. The China Helpdesk being particularly efficient with over 2500 queries answered, 98.8% of them within 3 working days. The Latin America Helpdesk reached an impressive 83.1% of the queries answered within 1 day.
- 501 trainings provided. The China Helpdesk having been able to train twice the target number of staff
- 585 matchmaking events. The South-East Asia Helpdesk alone carrying out over 200 of them.
- 147 case studies – Real life examples on IP practices.