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For Oral Answer on : 27/10/2022
Question Number(s): 66 Question Reference(s): 53410/22
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment if he will outline his position with respect to the unitary patent system and the unified patent court; his plans to hold a referendum in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


As the Deputy is aware, in June this year, I issued a press release confirming the Government’s commitment to participate in the Unitary Patent system and the Unitary Patent Court, and to hold the necessary constitutional referendum to enable Ireland to do so.

Although the timing for this referendum is a matter for Government to decide, it is anticipated that the referendum will be in 2023 or early 2024. This referendum will be held in tandem with either another referendum or other elections in order to facilitate voter turnout and to reduce costs to the taxpayer.

The Unitary Patent Court is currently in its preparatory phase. I understand that Germany has indicated that it anticipates that it will deposit its final instruments of ratification on the 23rd of December this year. This would trigger the sunrise period on the 1st of January 2023, and the Court would then be expected to commence on the 1st of April 2023. Once established, the UPC will be a centralised patent court where patent rights can be enforced in contracting Member States through instigating one legal case.  

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.

The main advantage of participating in the UPC is the cost saving for patent holders who wish to litigate as a decision made in the UPC will cover all participating member states, saving the patent holder from litigating in several jurisdictions. The Government decision of July 2014 provided for the establishment of a local division in Ireland, subject to the successful passing of a constitutional referendum. A local division hosted in Ireland would provide Irish businesses with the facility to litigate on Irish soil and create a wider pool of national skills and competences in Intellectual Property including, for example, legal services, and patent agencies.