For Written Answer on : 04/07/2023
Question Number(s): 270 Question Reference(s): 32642/23
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
* To ask the Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment to provide an update on the timing and publication of the regulatory impact assessment on the required legislation ahead of the referendum on Ireland’s participation in the Unified Patent Court, in light of the fact that the court has already gone live across Europe and that Ireland’s ability to play an influential role diminishes the more time that passes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– David Stanton T.D.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 4 July, 2023.
The establishment of a Local Division of the Unitary Patent Court in Ireland will offer users an accessible, cost-effective, and more efficient option for broad patent protection and dispute settlement across Europe. The new system enables uniform patent protection across all participating EU Member States by way of a single patent application and provide a centralised platform for Europe-wide patent litigation before the Unified Patent Court. Savings for businesses will be significant in this area and the simplified system will make it easier, particularly for micro and small businesses, to protect their IP while engaging with a broader EU export market.
In June 2022, the Government reaffirmed its commitment to participate in the Unitary Patent System and the Unified Patent Court, and to hold the necessary constitutional referendum to enable Ireland to do so. A local division of the Unified Patent Court will be created in Ireland if the State ratifies the agreement under which the court is established. Until such time as a referendum on the matter is held and won here, Ireland will not be participating in the UPC. Irish citizens and businesses will still, however, be able to apply for a Unitary Patent which will be valid in those Member States that have ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement. Similarly, Irish citizens will be able to defend their Unitary Patent or contest another Unitary Patent before the Unified Patent Court. National patent holders will still be able to litigate in their national courts, including in Ireland.
My Department is leading on the preparatory work for the referendum. Potential amendments to the national patent legislation to recognise both the new unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court agreement have been identified but any final amendments will not be fully considered until the result of the referendum is determined. As it is current practice to complete a regulatory impact assessment as legislation is being prepared, my Department is engaged in this process as it evolves. Engagement with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage regarding the work of the Electoral Commission on the referendum are ongoing. A communications campaign is being devised and an oversight committee, comprising the key stakeholders, is also being established to support the work.