Can I claim R&D tax credits for a copy of an existing product?

Potentially, if the details of the production of the original product is not publicly available, and you have had to carry out research and development to create your own version of the product, then you stand in good stead to claim R&D tax credits for your own solution. This is useful when the original product’s details are withheld as a trade secret.

You qualify for R&D tax credits when your company takes a risk by attempting to ‘resolve scientific or technological uncertainty’. Whilst this is usually applied to new processes, products or services; or modifying existing processes, products or services; the fact that there is already an existing process, product or service out there, does not negate the fact that you may have had to complete your own research and development to arrive at a similar outcome. 

However, this only applies if the details for the existing product are not readily available. You cannot access the tax credits for repetition of work that has already been done, which you could have used to shorten your own discovery method. 

Ask yourself, have you sought an advance in science or technology when facing scientific or technological uncertainty? Were you unable to access information, for example due to trade secrets, that would have enabled you to repeat their process? Or, have you created a similar outcome by an entirely different process?

We appreciate that sometimes the answers to these sorts of questions are not always black and white; that is why we are here to help you walk through your processes and to help you establish what can be included in a claim and what needs to be left out.