Fancy having part of your application fees reimbursed? Read how here!
Entrepreneurs registering their trademark or design in 2021 can take advantage of the "IP voucher" offer to have part of their application fees reimbursed. This promotional offer is an initiative of the European Commission, EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) and the competent national authorities. When it comes to trademarks and designs, the joint national authority in the Benelux is the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property.
The IP voucher
In 2021, SMEs can get a 50% off the basic fee component charged for trademark or design applications by using an intellectual property voucher (IP voucher). IP vouchers are available to any company based in the EU that meets the European Commission’s definition of an SME.
You can apply for an IP voucher for the fifth window from 1 September 2021 onwards.
Which fees are reimbursed?
Only the basic application fees qualify for partial reimbursement:
- In the case of a Benelux trademark application, the reimbursement amounts to 122 euros (50% of 244 euros).
- In the case of a Benelux design application, the reimbursement is 75 euros (50% of 150 euros).
- You can also use the IP voucher to get a partial reimbursement on an EU trademark or design application.
The IP Voucher will also cover part of the cost of pre-diagnostic IP services (an “IP scan”). That said, this service is currently only available to SMEs in Belgium.
The IP-Voucher also allows for a partial contribution to the costs of pre-diagnostic IP-services ("IP-scan"). These services are currently only available in the Benelux for SME companies in Belgium. The reimbursement is maximum 75% and amounts to 1,125 euros (75% of EUR 1,500). The IP Scan is a service in which an expert assigned by the FPS analyses which actions relating to intellectual property may be useful for your company.
To be eligible for an IP voucher, your company must meet the European Commission’s definition of an SME. The criteria include, among other things, your company’s staff headcount, the annual turnover or the annual balance sheet total. In general, an SME:
- employs fewer than 250 employees
- has an annual turnover of less than 50 million euros
- the balance sheet total does not exceed EUR 43 million.
You can take the European Commission’s online SME test (in English) to ascertain whether your company is considered to be an SME.
An IP voucher for trademarks and Designs
To obtain an IP voucher, the following conditions apply:
- Only SMEs that meet the European Commission’s SME definition may apply for an IP voucher.
- You on behalf of the company itself or an IP Professional on your behalf, may apply for an IP voucher (by submitting the relevant application form to EUIPO). An IP Professional is a legal expert in the field of Intellectual Property who can assist you with applying for your trademark or design registration
- A maximum of 50% of the costs incurred will be reimbursed up to a maximum of 1,500 euros. So, you can apply for partial reimbursement of fees for a number of trademark and/or design applications at the same time. Only the basic registration fees are eligible for partial reimbursement.
The reimbursement for a Benelux trademark application is 122 euros (50% of 244 euros)
The reimbursement for a Benelux design application is 75 euros (50% of 150 euros).
- Each applicant may apply for only one IP voucher in 2021. The voucher application may cover several Benelux and/or EU trademark or design applications.
An IP voucher for an IP-Scan
Only available for SMEs in Belgium. To obtain an IP voucher for an IP-Scan, the following conditions apply:
- Only SMEs that meet the European Commission’s SME definition may apply for an IP voucher.
- You on behalf of the company itself may apply for an IP voucher (by submitting the relevant application form to EUIPO).
- A maximum of 75% of the costs incurred will be reimbursed up to a maximum of 1,500 euros. The reimbusement for the application of an IP-Scan is 1.125 euro (75% van 1.500 euro)
- Each applicant may apply for only one IP voucher in 2021. The voucher application may cover several Benelux and/or EU trademark or design applications and/or an IP-Scan. The total amount for reimbursement for both services is maximum 1,500 euros.
- It is permitted to split the application for the IP-Voucher for trademarks and designs and the application for the IP-Scan. However, these applications must be submitted in different periods.
N.B. to use an IP voucher, you should only apply to register your Benelux and/or EU trademark or design(s) and/or an IP-Scan after you have received the voucher grant decision from EUIPO. Furthermore, if you apply to register your trademark or design and or an IP-Scan before applying for an IP voucher, no payment will be made based on the voucher. Bear this in mind when timing your voucher application. You can apply for a trademark or design at BOIP. You can apply for an IP scan via FPS.
Step 1: Apply for an IP voucher
You can submit an application for an IP voucher in any one of five designated timeframes. The fifth window opens on 1 September 2021.
4 million euros’ worth of vouchers are on offer during each window. Applications for IP vouchers will be processed on a first come, first served basis. There is no guarantee that IP vouchers won’t run out during the window in which you apply, so be quick!
- Applications for an IP voucher must be submitted to EUIPO during one of the designated windows using a dedicated form (the link to the form can be found at sub-step 7). You must apply for your voucher before applying to register your design or trademark at BOIP or EUIPO.
- To apply for an IP voucher, you need to provide the following information:
- Your bank details and a copy of a bank statement bearing the company name as the account holder, the IBAN number and the BIC/SWIFT code.
- A VAT certificate
- Upon submitting your voucher application, you will receive an e-mail acknowledging receipt and your application reference number. The process can take up to 60 minutes. The number will be used in all communication regarding your voucher application, so keep it safe! You do not need to state this number in your BOIP trademark or design application nor in your FPS IP-Scan application.
- In general, EUIPO will issue a signed voucher grant decision within one month. Applications will be processed on a first come, first served basis. There is therefore no guarantee that IP vouchers will not run out during the window in which you apply for one.
- If your voucher application is rejected in one window, you may re-submit it in another window. If you submit more than one application during a window, only the first application will be processed.
- You must submit your Benelux trademark and/or design application(s) to BOIP and your IP-Scan applicaton tot FPS within 30 days of receipt of the voucher grant decision. If you do not receive a grant decision from EUIPO before applying to register your trademark or design, you will not qualify for payment of the reimbursement.
- If you are granted an IP voucher, you must take action to redeem it by requesting a reimbursement.
Step 2: Redeem an IP voucher (request for final payment)
After applying to register your trademark or design(s), it falls to you to redeem your IP voucher yourself. You do so as follows:
- To cash in your voucher, click on the link in the grant decision that you received from EUIPO. Upload proof of payment and, provided that the information submitted with the voucher application is correct, EUIPO will make the reimbursement within one month.
- Request your reimbursement within 30 days of applying to register your trademark or design(s). Payment is not contingent on successful registration of your trademark or design: you can request a reimbursement even if registration is refused.
These IP vouchers are being issued thanks to the Ideas Powered for Business SME Fund. The Fund is an initiative of the European Commission, EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) and the competent national authorities and its aim is to support EU companies in protecting their IP rights in the Benelux, in individual EU member states, or in the entire EU in one go. BOIP is the competent authority for registration of trademarks and designs in the Benelux.
Before registering a trademark or design, you need to decide in which countries you want to protect it. If you only operate in the Benelux or part of it, the most logical choice is to register your trademark or design in the Benelux. To do so, you turn to us: the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP), the official body for registering trademarks and designs in the Benelux.
If your business also operates outside the Benelux, you can choose from various options to register your trademark or design outside the Benelux. You can register it in one go in the entire European Union, or in one or more countries together. If you want to register your trademark or design throughout the European Union in one go, you should submit your application to EUIPO. That is the official body for registering an EU trademark or design.
If you only want to register your trademark or design in certain European countries, and perhaps also in some non-European countries, you submit your application for a so-called international registration to WIPO. The IP voucher does not, however, apply to international registrations.
If you have any questions regarding where to register your trademark or design please contact our Information Centre or one of our partners below.