Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk: New IP diagnostic tool for companies doing business abroad
According to reports and statistics from WIPO, EPO and EUIPO, global and European filing activity for patents, utility models, trademarks and industrial designs has increased over the past few years. This growth supposes an increased activity from the Intellectual Property Offices all around the world.
A priori, this could be due to enhanced awareness and knowledge about intellectual property rights on the part of companies. However, even when small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), together with individual entrepreneurs and universities, play a significant role in the European innovation ecosystem, studies show that only a small proportion of SMEs in the EU actually make use of IP.
Another report by EUIPO states that the immense majority of SMEs do not own any patent, registered trademark or design. It also points out that 9 out of 10 SMEs do not own any of the above industrial property rights. As it has also been reported by the European Commission, the majority of EU SMEs do not make enough use of the IP scheme and, therefore, they are missing substantial growth and development opportunities.
Thus, relevant conclusions can be drawn from all the information mentioned above:
- Is has been observed a general lack of awareness and ability to use IP rights amongst EU SMEs.
- It is not enough for SMEs to know that they have to protect and for IP Offices to indicate what the available tools are. They also need to understand why and when to use each IP instrument. Hence, the need for the diagnosis reports to explain in detail the choice of one right over another, even if briefly seems clear.
- Substantial attention is paid to the usual intellectual property rights (trademarks and patents). Still, there is a need to reinforce the awareness regarding copyright, designs and geographical indications, as well as reinforce knowledge regarding domain names and trade secrets since these alternative measures seemed to be highly used by SMEs.
The Latin America IP Diagnostic Tool
In light of the situation described above, the Latin America IP SME Helpdesk, an initiative of the European Commission, has developed an innovative online tool that supports EU SMEs in using their IP assets more effectively in their target markets.
The IP Diagnostic Tool constitutes a practical instrument for EU SMEs by helping them gain better insights about their intellectual property status and provide them with tailored information for better identification of their Intellectual property assets, management and exploitation when internationalising to Latin American countries.
This interactive and user-friendly tool allows users to identify their level of knowledge and management of IP by responding to a series of multiple-choice questions addressed. Based on the answers provided, the user will instantly obtain a downloadable report with the following information:
- Diagnosis of user´s level ofIP knowledgeand management.
- Best practices, watch-outs and tips for improvement.
- Recommended IP materials, trainings and events provided by the Helpdesk.
The innovative aspect of the IP Diagnostic Tool lies in the internationalisation approach integrated. While most of the available IP pre-diagnostic tools only evaluates the IP and business-oriented aspects of the company, the IP Diagnostic tool designed by the Latin America IP SME Helpdesk intends to cover not only the business aspects, but also the ones related with the internationalisation process.
The addition of this new tool implies a significant upgrade in this first line intellectual property service for EU SMEs interested in doing business in Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.