Ireland To Hold Referendum Regarding UPC Participationa

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Recently the Irish government reaffirmed its commitment to participate in the European Unitary Patent system and Unified Patent Court (UPC) and to hold a referendum to enable Ireland to do so.
Ireland Intellectual Property
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The UPC is a new international court set up by the participating member states to deal with the infringement and validity of both Unitary Patents and European patents. Its rulings will apply to all member states that have ratified the UPC Agreement. The UPC will enable patent proprietors to defend or challenge a patent via a single litigation process, instead of having to take multiple actions in individual member states.

The Tánaiste of Ireland stated that ratification of the UPC Agreement will not be a standalone referendum, but will be combined with other referenda and therefore, will not be held this year. However, a constitutional referendum may be held in 2023, or run concurrently with the Local and European Elections in 2024.

Benefits of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court include:

  • access to a new Unified Patent Court (UPC) with exclusive competence to hear cases relating to the Unitary Patent and competence to hear cases relating to traditionally validated European patents*. This new court will enable patent rights to be enforced across participating member states without the need to deal with multiple national court systems.
  • the ability for innovators, researchers, businesses, and SMEs to choose to obtain patent protection in Ireland via file patent applications as a national patent, a traditional European Patent, or a Unitary Patent.
  • access (potentially) to a Local Division hosted in Ireland. The Unified Patent Court will comprise a court of first instance made up of a central division (hosted in Paris and Munich) with a number of local and regional divisions across participating member states. If a Local Division is hosted in Ireland then Irish businesses would be able to litigate unitary patents on Irish soil which in turn would create a wider pool of national skills and competencies in Intellectual Property.

*Note that during a transitional period of 7-14 years patent owners can, if they choose, opt their traditionally validated European patents out of the competence of the new Unified Patent Court.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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