EU‭: ‬Intellectual Property Rights‭ (‬IPR‭)‬

Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are one of the principal means through which companies, creators, researchers and inventors generate returns on their investment in knowledge and creation. As companies increasingly compete on innovation, creativity and quality in the global economy, the protection of IPR is essential particular for SMEs which do not have the resource to manage large IP portfolios or engage on protracted litigation.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property consists of products, work or process that you have created and which give you a competitive advantage. There are 3 subcategories:

Industrial property: inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, new varieties of plants and geographic indications of origin

Artistic Work protected by copyright: original literary and artistic works, music, television broadcasting, software, databases, architectural designs, advertising creations and multimedia

Commercial strategies: trade secrets, know-how, confidentiality agreements, or rapid production.

Protection of IP

Intellectual property can be protected by means of the intellectual property rights (IPR) laid down by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The form of protection depends on the on the type of IP:

Patents – allow a company to stop third parties from making, using or selling its invention for a certain period depending on the type of invention

Trademarks – protect the name of the product by preventing other business from selling a product under the same name

Copyright – informs others that the author intends to control the production, distribution, display or performance of your work. Copyright is granted automatically, with no need for formal registration. The author can start using the copyright symbol immediately.

Doing business in more than one EU country, a European Union trade mark and a registered community design give you protection in the 28 Member States of the EU in one single registration. Registration of trade mark or design can be apply in any of 23 EU languages at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). An online application costs € 850 for a trade mark and € 350 for a Community design.

A national patent can be applied at a patent office in an EU country or for a European patent through European Patent Office (EPO). However, a European patent needs to be a validated by the national patent office in each country where protection is required. Depending on the country’s law, the applicant may have to provide translations or pay fee by a certain date.

Intellectual property (IP) can improve the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and provide a potential source of revenue. However, SMEs often lack the time, resources, or knowledge to address IP issues. The European Commission aims to help SMEs use IP more effectively by providing tools such as IP Helpdesks and by regularly evaluating the support available to small businesses.

IPR SME helpdesks

The IPR SME Helpdesk supports European Union (EU) small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to both protect and enforce their Intellectual Property (IP) rights in or relating to China, Latin America, Southeast Asia through the provision of free information and services. These take the form of jargon-free, first-line, confidential advice on intellectual property and related issues, plus training, materials and online resources.

The EU funds four IPR helpdesks staffed by experts who can provide free advice and training sessions on IP issues:

• The European IPR Helpdesk offers tailored advice to researchers and European SMEs participating in EU-funded research projects and SMEs involved in international technology transfer processes.

• Three specialised helpdesks support European SMEs in China, South-East Asia and Latin America. These multilingual helpdesks offer free services including confidential first-line advice on registering formal IPRs (such as patents, trademarks or design rights), managing intellectual property as business assets, dealing with intellectual property rights infringements, and the provision of information and training on related topics.

The helpdesks are funded by COSME, Europe’s programme for small and medium- sized enterprises, ICI, Europe’s Instrument for Cooperation with Industrialized Countries and Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Tin300_p13a Tin300_p13b Tin300_p13c


For more information and details regarding “EU Intellectual Property”, please visit the website at:

For more tips on investing and trading in the EU, please contact the Business Cooperation Centre of  Enterprise Europe Network Central China – Macao Office (EENCC Macao Office) at Tel: 2871 3338, 2872 7882/Fax: 2871 3339/Email: