Joint EPO-EUIPO study finds strong link between growth of SMEs and their use of Intellectual Property

  • SMEs using Intellectual Property rights are more likely to achieve high growth
  • European patents and European trademarks clearly linked to higher growth
  • Firms with more than one IP right also more likely to grow
  • IPR use can identify future high growth firms early in their development

21 May 2019
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that apply for patents, trade marks or designs have a greater probability of experiencing high growth than SMEs that do not. That’s according to a new study released today by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

SMEs represent 99% of all businesses in the European Union (EU), and contribute 57% of the EU’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, a large proportion of the value generated by SMEs comes from a small number of high growth firms (HGFs), which are often very innovative.

Today’s study shows that SMEs that have filed at least one IP right are 21% more likely to experience a growth period afterwards and are 10% more likely to become an HGF than firms without IP rights applications. SMEs that file for IP rights at European level have an even greater likelihood (17%) of becoming an HGF.

The research also reveals that the chances of an SME becoming an HGF increase by 33% if they use “bundles” of trade marks, patents, and designs instead of one single IP right category.

The Executive Director of EUIPO, Christian Archambeau, said:
“SMEs, and high growth firms in particular, are the heroes of the European economy, helping to drive innovation and value. Our report clearly shows the relationship between IP rights and high growth firms, in which trade marks, as well as other IP rights, have a crucial part to play. A SME that has recently registered at least one trade mark is 13% more likely to experience high growth in the future.”

The President of the European Patent Office, António Campinos, said:
“Some 30% of EPO applicants are SMEs, entrepreneurs, universities or public research organisations so it is essential to continue facilitating their access to the European market in order to commercialise their inventions. It has a tremendous impact on growth and job creation, and public authorities at the European and national level should increase their efforts to support this goal.”

The study found that in high-tech industries, SMEs that have filed a European patent are 110% more likely to experience high growth; in low-tech industries the figure is 172%.

High growth firms are defined as those that have had an average growth rate greater than 20% per year over three consecutive years, and who have at least 10 employees at the beginning of the growth period.

About the EPO

With nearly 7 000 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO)
is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO’s centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The
EPO is also the world’s leading authority in patent information and patent searching.


About the EUIPO

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is a decentralised agency of the EU, based in Alicante, Spain. It manages the registration of the European Union trade mark (EUTM) and the registered Community design (RCD), both of which provide intellectual property protection in all EU Member States. The EUIPO also carries out cooperation activities with the national and regional Intellectual Property Offices of the EU. The EUIPO hosts the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights.

Further information


EPO press contact:

Jana Mittermaier
Phone: +49 8923991800

EUIPO press contact:

Ruth McDonald
Phone: +34 965137676

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