The Australian Government offers a financial assistance program for aspiring and current exporters to cover the costs associated with export promotion activities; the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme.
The scheme has now been expanded to cover up to 50% of eligible export promotion expenses after the first $5,000 provided that the total expenses are at least $15,000. The initial payment ceiling for the grant year 2013–14 for the EMDG scheme is $60,000. Exporters with entitlements above this amount will receive a second payment at the end of June 2015. The 2013–14 grant year was open until 1 December 2014.
Protecting intellectual property rights internationally can be vital to success in overseas markets. Trade marks provide protection for the brand of a business. As many countries now operate on a first-to-file basis, where the first person to file a trade mark application obtains ownership of the mark, it can be desirable to obtain trade mark protection prior to entering an overseas market. Securing trade mark protection in these jurisdictions at an early stage is advisable to prevent competitors or trade mark “squatters” from filing their own applications for an identical or similar trade mark. Patent rights can also provide protection for products and processes, while registered designs provide protection for the physical appearance of a product. Both patents and designs can provide a crucial market advantage, and allow exporters to obtain and hold market share by preventing competitors from copying successful products.
The EMDG scheme is designed to encourage small and medium sized Australian businesses to develop export markets. Accordingly, the business’s total annual income must be $50 million or less during the last financial year. Once a business has received two grants, they may have to provide evidence of export earnings or assess indicators of future export success in order to be eligible to receive third and subsequent grants.
The EMDG scheme allows eligible business to claim a range of activities. These activities include:
- maintaining one or more overseas representatives on a long term basis in foreign countries;
- engaging a consultant to undertake market research, or marketing activities;
- overseas travel expenses;
- any expenses associated with any communication with a potential buyer or a distributor, representative or consultant;
- providing free samples for promotional purposes;
- participation in a trade fair, seminar, in‑store promotion, international forum, private exhibition or similar promotional event;
- promotional literature;
- bringing one or more buyers to Australia;
- costs associated with the registration and insurance of intellectual property rights in foreign countries for intellectual property that was substantially developed in Australia.
Eligible intellectual property includes an intellectual property right that mainly resulted from work done in Australia, a trademark that was owned, assigned or first used in Australia, and know-how that mainly resulted from work done in Australia. Additionally, costs associated with engaging foreign attorneys to obtain trade mark and patent protection fall within the scope of the EMDG scheme. Further, insurance premiums paid for protection against possible infringement actions are also covered.
The EMDG scheme was recently amended to introduce changes in the EMDG Amendment Bill 2014 which:
- increase the number of grants able to be received by an applicant from seven to eight;
- reduce the minimum expenses threshold required to be incurred by an applicant from $20,000 to $15,000;
- reduce the current $5,000 deduction from the applicant’s provisional grant amount to $2,500;
- prevent the payment of grants to applicants engaging an EMDG consultant assessed to be a not fit and proper person; and
- enable a grant to be paid more quickly where a grant is determined before 1 July following the balance distribution date.
The EMDG scheme covers past expenses, so even if you have been developing export markets for some time and have been unaware of the scheme, you may be entitled to claim expenses for past years. For more information about the EMDG scheme and how to apply, visit http://www.austrade.gov.au/export/export-grants