Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

H.E. Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter
European Union
14 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND INNOVATION: MAKING MSMES COMPETITIVE IN GREEN TECH

595.   Climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to the EU and the world. To overcome these challenges, the EU builds on the European Green Deal, which is a strategy that will transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy, which is also sustainable without net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. The EU has committed to gradually transform its economy to make it greener. The EU is one of the leaders on key green technologies (e.g. it has 34 % of all climate change technology patents). 596.   Green technologies are essential to enable the transition to the green economy. From the perspective of research and innovation in green technologies, IP is a tool to help exploit the results of these activities, while ensuring return on investment in research and innovation for the companies. Sound IP management is also key to support the valorisation and deployment of research and development results in green technology in the EU. 597.   The EU's Intellectual Property Action Plan to support the EU's recovery and resilience (IP Action Plan), which was published in November 2020, aims, among others, to incentivise and reward green inventions. The IP Action Plan will also help mobilise green technologies and data, to help put them at the service of ecological transition and the economy as a whole. In parallel, IP support for SMEs aims at improving the economic performance and competitiveness of SMEs. The better management of IP by SMEs is important in this process. 598.   Many SMEs and researchers in the EU and globally do not make full use of the opportunities offered by IP protection. For instance, only 9% of the SMEs in the EU have registered their IP rights. In the current crisis, the number of IP registrations have dropped significantly, to the detriment of companies' competitiveness and resilience. As indicated in the EU IP Action Plan, the recent analysis shows that the SMEs' reluctance to use IP rights is largely due to the lack of knowledge about IP. Even if they use IP rights, they find the system too costly, complex and difficult to navigate. 599.   The Commission is fully aware of the challenges faced by the innovative SMEs in green tech and provides several tools to support them. We already described in detail these tools during the TRIPS Council in October 2020: The EU has launched an EU IP Helpdesk and also IP Helpdesks in China, India, Latin America and South-East Asia as well as IP pre-diagnostic services for IPR-driven start-ups and SMEs. 600.   The EU IP Action Plan also intends to boost the use of IP by EU MSMEs using four actions beyond the tools already mentioned: a. The EU supports MSMEs financially with an IP Voucher. Since the beginning of 2021, SMEs based in the EU can apply for financing under the new . The new scheme offers financial support in the form of reimbursements for trademark and design application, IP advice and for IP pre-diagnostic services (IP Scan)*, up to a maximum amount of EUR 1.500 per business. The overall budget is EUR 20 million (EUR 19.8 million from the EUIPO and 0.2 million from COSME). b. The Commission intends identifying green technologies for support within this framework. c. According to the EU's experience, unconditional co-funding of IP rights, especially of patents may not be optimal, because it may increase low quality registrations. The ideal solution is to co-fund the registration of certain IP rights following recommendations drawn up in the context of a prior tailor made IP assistance. 601.   The Commission in close cooperation with the EUIPO and Members' IP offices will expand the availability of IP pre-diagnostic services across the EU. This is a strategic, tailor-made assistance that allows MSMEs to build their IP strategy. This service will be available for all EU MSMEs that participate in EU funded research to develop IP strategies that facilitate the dissemination of the jointly developed technologies.31 Many of these EU funded projects will concern green technologies. This service will thus contribute to the smooth deployment of green technologies. 602.   It is a challenge to make MSMEs understand the benefits of IP and familiarize them with the available targeted support measures. This is why the European IP Info Centre (provided by the EUIPO) that will build on existing information sources to make them more accessible, will be integrated in the Commission's business information portal. The Commission and Members IP offices will cooperate with general business support partners to reach SMEs with IP information when they need it. 603.   MSMEs, especially innovative ones, including those specialised in green tech, usually have limited tangible assets that can give them access to finance for their investment in research and innovation. The EU will work with the investment community to see what kind of IP-related information they would need to be more easily able to identify intellectual assets worth investing in. This could create new investment opportunities and potentially increase the innovation capacity of green MSMEs. In the EU networks such as Enterprise Europe Network (general business support) or the PATLIBs (IP information centres network animated by the EPO) can be potential partners in this domain. The EUIPO 604.   The EUIPO's actions supporting SMEs is coherent with the Commission's policy on IP. In view of the need to provide more support for SMEs and to use its resources, the EUIPO has developed an SME programme within its new Strategic Plan 2025. Under EUIPO's Strategic Plan 2025, the SME Programme was launched in July 2020 to empower EU SMEs within the EU and beyond, protecting and enforcing their competitive advantage through IP Rights. 605.   The four main objectives are: a. improve the information given to SMEs; b. support SMEs on their business journey; c. provide a supportive network for SMEs; and d. increase the successful use of IP rights. 606.   In this framework, the EUIPO is developing, and has started to launch, a series of support initiatives for SMEs: a. 607.   A dedicated corner for SMEs (within the EUIPO website), launched July 2020, containing access to Pro-Bono matching service and EDR (EUIPO dispute resolution). This includes free personalized Intellectual Property support and swift and tailor-made service to pair SMEs with providers of free of charge IP legal representation and advice during this unprecedented period. The service focuses on the needs of SMEs, ensuring that companies get the IP legal advice they need to protect their rights optimally and maximise them as well as the proper professional representation to defend those rights. Businesses can obtain practical solutions to handle their legal concerns, which will help them to overcome the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.This hub will be developed further into a European IP Information Centre building on existing information sources and integrated with the Commission's overall business support website "Your Europe" portal. b. , launched in January 2021, a simplified and easy, user-friendly way for SMEs to register trademarks and designs. 608.   Furthermore, a series of initiatives are under development including IP Valuation for trademarks. The European Patent Office 609.   The European Patent Information Centers managed by the European Patent Office, have provided advice on patents, mostly to SMEs and universities, over the past 30 years. 610.   The PAT-LIB 2.0 network is an example of a concrete action to provide basic guidance and assistance on various IPR aspects and support, for example, in the form of assisted patent searches and assisted patent landscape analyses. 611.   Furthermore, the EPO's European Patent Academy has developed dedicated events, case studies and training materials to help high-growth technology businesses such as MSME or start-ups bring new green and other technologies to the market and scale them up. The training offer specifically aims at sharing experience and promoting best practices in IP strategy and IP management, with a view to leveraging IP assets to sustain rapid growth and scale-up. 612.   The EPO regularly monitors, through studies, the economic performance and challenges of innovative SMEs that are using patents and other IP rights. 613.   The EPO has established a dedicated classification scheme for climate mitigation technologies. The scheme consists of more than three million documents and 372 cross-sectional classes that have been designed to cover areas related to specific clean energy technologies (Y02E), smart grids (Y04S), carbon capture and storage (Y02C), and energy-efficient technologies in end-use sectors such as transportation (Y02T), building (Y02B), or industrial production (Y02P). The Y02/Y04S scheme is integral part of the Cooperative Patent Classification and freely available in EPO's patent information products such as Espacenet, the Global Patent Index, or the PATSTAT database. It is a unique resource for MSME to search patent information in green technologies, and for policy makers to monitor trends and identify active players in those technologies.

66. The Chair said that this item had been put on the agenda at the request of Australia; Canada, Chile; the European Union; Japan; Singapore; Switzerland; the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; the United Kingdom, and the United States. A communication with the same title had been circulated.
67. The representatives of Switzerland; the United States of America; Australia; Singapore; the United Kingdom; Japan; the European Union; Chad, on behalf of the LDC Group; Canada; India; Norway; Brazil; Ecuador; and China took the floor.
68. The Council took note of the statements made.
IP/C/M/98, IP/C/M/98/Add.1

31 Horizon IP Scan - https://intellectual-property-helpdesk.ec.europa.eu/horizon-ip-scan_en