Your small business clients in Quebec who have intellectual property assets want to protect it for obvious reasons. The good news is that they might be eligible for financial help to keep their intellectual property safe through 2022. The First Patent Program which launched in May 2017 has given out around $5 million to small businesses as they develop these wealth-building assets. Eligibility is key to taking advantage of the program.
Are Your Clients Eligible?
Newer businesses that aren’t majority owned by another company qualify for the First Patent Program. Another qualifying standard is having less than 250 employees and operating in Quebec for at least one year. As true newbie businesses, your clients need to be looking into protecting their intellectual property for the first time to be eligible — any business that has filed a patent or industrial design registration in the past is ineligible. The biggest qualifying standard — because point of the grant is to cover research and development efforts, your client has to have intellectual property to protect.
What Counts as Eligible Activities?
To get money, your clients need to have a patent, industrial design, or integrated circuit topography, or have any of these in development. Eligible activities include making a strategy to protect the property, researching the state of technology already covered by intellectual property filings, and researching certifications for using the asset. If your clients also gather opinions on the registration, research the validity of the designs, or pursue an application, they’re eligible for the First Patent Program.
What Types of Expenses Are Covered?
There are specific things your clients should have paid for to be eligible for aid. These expenses include fees for consulting services, studies or documents to support the patent, and fees for filing the patent application or industrial design registration. If your clients have a few patent filings in the works, only expenses for one specific patent, copyright, trademark, or other asset are eligible. Also, your clients can’t get financial help for the stuff for which they already incurred costs; only costs occurring after the application are eligible.
How Much Can Your Clients Get?
Your clients can get up to 50% of a project’s actual eligible expenses covered. This amount is capped at $25,000. If your clients are going to get other government funds, the maximum amount allowed under the First Patent Program is limited even more. If your client’s application is accepted, 50% of the projected cost is disbursed. Your client receives the second half of the projected costs after showing the first half has been completed and paid.
What’s the Application Process Like?
If your clients want financial aid, they need to submit a completed application to the Quebec Ministry of Economy, Innovation, and Exports (MEIE). This application can be sent anytime. You may want to advise them to send a letter or document outlining their project. The Ministry evaluates First Patent Program applications based on high market potential, the quality of the service a business offers, and the level of competence of their team. If your client’s project is somewhat risky, it’s important to address this risk as the application could be negatively impacted due to the project’s uncertainty.
Your clients in Quebec are in luck. They might be eligible to have some of their expenses related to protecting their first intellectual property covered. Under the First Patent Program, all they need to do is send in an application, meet the program requirements, and continue developing a new idea that needs legal protection.