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Beefing up business: How the EU can help SMEs protect their IP

In partnership with The European Commission
Beefing up business: How the EU can help SMEs protect their IP
By Serge RombiRobert Hackwill
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Intellectual property can mean the difference between an SME going global or going to the wall. An EU business support system exists to help companies profit more from, and protect, their IP.

This edition of Business Planet comes from Osijek in Croatia, to look at how vital it is for companies to integrate their intellectual property in the overall company strategy.

We met Ivan Stefanic, Ambassador for the EU IPR Helpdesk, a European service that supports entrepreneurs. So, why is it so important?

"Intellectual Property is one of the factors that would determine if are you just one of the successful businesses on your street or you are running a global business. And European statistics actually confirm that : if you manage your IP portfolio correctly, you could have 32% higher revenue," he says.

An example of a company that the EU IPR Helpdesk has supported is right here.

Phoenix has 70 motivated employees, and full order books: this SME is now in perfect health. The company's expertise in the design and manufacture of spring machines is recognized throughout Europe.

But a few years ago Phoenix lived through dark hours, when some employees set up a competing business, stealing customer files and copying the products.

There was a direct impact on brand awareness and market share, which immediately dropped by 35%.

The managers then reacted. They got in touch with the EU lPR Help Desk ambassador and put intellectual property at the center of their strategy.

"We started using new instruments to protect our IP, like registered EU Design. We improved our contracts by introducing non-disclosure and confidentiality clauses at all levels. We have changed the company mindset regarding IP," says Phoenix's Head of Software Development, Bojan Stojković.

The new strategy proved very effective. The plant should expand very soon to meet rising demand, and the business prospects are excellent.

"We increased our market share. We doubled our workforce. And now, we can invest considerable amounts of money into R&D activities, which is crucial for a company like ours," says Stojković.

Serge Rombi, euronews:

"So, Ivan. What is the exact role of an ambassador? "

Ivan Stefanic:

"Our role is not to replace a patent attorney. But we certainly can help an entrepreneur to identify the problem, to define an IP strategy, provide training, and most importantly, to provide advice on how to utilise IP."

Serge Rombi :

"Ivan, how, as an entrepreneur, can I come into contact with an ambassador like you?"

Ivan Stefanic:

"Serge, that's simple. The EU IPR helpdesk has a team of 52 ambassadors in 29 European countries. Go to our webpage and find your ambassador!"

As always, there's more info on the Business Planet web page and on our social networks.

Protect your IP

Intellectual property rights, (IPR), protect companies’ intangible assets and allow them to profit from their creations and innovations.

42% of EU GDP is generated by intellectual property-intensive industries that also provide 60 million jobs in Europe.

Enterprises that protect their IPR's have 32% higher revenues than those who don't. They also employ more people and pay higher salaries.

However only 9% of EU SMEs use intellectual property, compared to 36% of large companies. This is because they do not see the benefits of IPRs for them, they lack the knowledge and expertise, or they find procedures to protect their IPRs too costly.

The European IPR Helpdesk provides support for SMEs on IPR issues in EU-funded projects and on transnational commercial cooperation. The projects focus on training, awareness-raising and advice on registration, and the use and management of intellectual property.

Useful links:

European IPR Helpdesk -

European IPR Helpdesk Ambassadors -

Your Europe web portal - Intellectual Property Rights

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