Access to Intellectual Property Protection for Small and Medium Enterprises 

Author: Jana Dukovska Despotovska, Member of the IPR Task Force and Partner at Popovski & Partners Law Firm 

*The article in Macedonian language, published by Kapital can be found at the bottom of this page.

The importance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in national economies and their development cannot be overstated. SMEs constitute the largest segment of the business sector in every economy, making their development and support a priority for every country. According to the World Trade Organization, SMEs account for over 90% of businesses and provide 60-70% of jobs in developed economies. 

SMEs are a vital segment of innovation, as they are highly adaptable to new trends and societal changes. The fundamental matter in question is how to encourage their success and facilitate their smooth development. 

Why is Intellectual Property Important to SMEs? 

Intellectual property rights (IPR) are a crucial tool that gives companies an edge over their competition. They help protect a company’s market position, generate income from protected rights, stimulate innovation, and increase the loyalty of customers towards the company’s products and services. 

Moreover, protecting IPR can attract investments by increasing a company’s attractiveness through a well-managed IPR portfolio. It also facilitates easier access to new markets and the expansion of operations. 

However, while the protection of IPR might seem simple and straightforward, it often involves complex procedures. Effective IPR protection frequently requires a compound approach to address the diverse and intricate situations that companies may encounter in practice. 

Jana Dukovska Despotovska, Member of the IPR Task Force and Partner at Popovski & Partners Law Firm

How to Improve Access to IPR Protection for SMEs 

A fundamental issue for small and medium-sized enterprises is what steps they should take to protect and maximize the benefits of their IPR. 

One of the most important steps is to raise the level of awareness among SMEs about the methods and possibilities for protecting their IPR, which is a crucial part of their assets. Companies have numerous mechanisms at their disposal for IPR protection, serving as important instruments for increasing their value. 

To develop and leverage their IPR effectively, companies must adopt the right approach and options for protection. Primarily, they should develop a clear strategy, which is a basic prerequisite for supporting successful cooperation, commercialization, and other development benefits. This strategy must be aligned with the enterprise’s business operations and goals. It should clearly identify the company’s IPR, assess their value, and determine the best and most effective ways to protect and capitalize on these rights. 

In practice, IPR (including copyrights, patents, trademarks, designs, trade secrets, know-how, etc.) often result from collaboration between multiple entities, such as government bodies, agencies, universities, and other companies. In such cases, it is necessary to create agreements that clearly define who is the rights subject, who can use them, and under what conditions. 

These steps will be effective only if companies develop an awareness of the importance of protecting their rights. They should encourage employees to be creative and to protect their creative works using the available mechanisms. 

Seeking advice from an IPR protection expert is another crucial step. An expert can provide the right guidance and navigate the complex path of IPR protection for SMEs. 

For successful implementation of these recommendations, every company should properly manage its portfolio of protected IPR. This involves constantly revising and upgrading the portfolio to align with the business strategy and technological developments. Companies should also protect their IPR from potential infringement and unauthorized use to safeguard their investments and reputation. Additionally, they should capitalize on their protected rights through product commercialization, licensing to other entities, or franchising to generate revenue. 

Although protecting the IPR of SMEs can be challenging due to high costs, complex procedures, time requirements, and implementation difficulties, these challenges can be overcome with the right approach and expert advice. This will unlock the full potential of an enterprise’s IPR and the benefits that come with their protection. 

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