Government must set out timeline for delivery of UPCA

September 30, 2021

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, is calling on Government to immediately set out a timetable for Ireland’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA). This must include an indicative date for holding the necessary referendum, and for passage of required legislation. Failure to act risks seeing Ireland miss out substantial opportunities for economic growth. 

As detailed in a major new report from Ibec, “Unified Patent Court: Making the Case for Irish Business” (see attached), the new unified patent system stands to create a simpler and more efficient mechanism for obtaining and enforcing patents in Europe. Countries hosting the most popular divisions of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will also develop a reputation as the centres of IP-intensive activity in Europe, with all the associated economic advantages. As Irish companies continue to diversify their reach across the EU single market, they would benefit from the existence of the unitary patent and the accompanying enforcement mechanism.

Chair of the Ibec Corporate IP Group and Head of Patent Development, Intellectual Ventures, Naoise Gaffney said: “Ireland is uniquely positioned to establish itself on the international stage as a patent enforcement hotspot. Doing so would yield very substantial gains for the wider Irish economy, gains that would go far beyond an increase in legal services. However, this is a time-bound opportunity. Ireland is already far behind other countries in preparing for the UPC, and if we stay the current course, we risk missing out completely. It’s not too late, but prompt, proactive movement on the issue is necessary for us to claim the prize on offer.”

Ibec Senior Executive of Government, Enterprise, and Regulatory Affairs Policy, Aidan Sweeney, added: “Brexit has raised the profile of IP policy once more. An Irish Local Division, that is English-speaking and rooted in common law tradition, would be attractive to European patent litigation that might otherwise have occurred in the UK. 

“An attractive and timely-established Local Division in Dublin will support the further expansion of the patent-intensive sectors across the country, creating jobs, benefitting SMEs, and boosting Ireland’s innovation performance. This is expected to contribute at least €415m or 0.13% in GDP growth per annum. It could rise to as much as €1.663bn or 0.5% in GDP growth.”

The Irish Government announced in November 2014, its decision that Ireland would establish a Local Division of the Unified Patent Court in Dublin. Progress however had been stalled due to Brexit and delays in Germany, which have now been resolved, clearing the way for the Unified Patent Court to proceed across Europe. It is now expected to commence in 2022. Government must ratify the UPCA allowing Ireland to participate in this new court structure without delay, which will require a referendum.

The Ibec Corporate IP Group has been established as a unique network for IP-owning companies and in-house corporate IP professionals. The remit of the group includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other areas of intellectual property. The group addresses challenges and opportunities facing businesses that create, own, and trade intellectual property in, and from, Ireland. It is a forum for discussing upcoming and current developments in IP policy in Ireland, Europe and further afield. 

The group has three core objectives: 

  1. To offer thought leadership and a single and strong business voice on IP issues at a national and pan-national level;
  2. To help develop the IP management ecosystem in Ireland through the sharing of best practices amongst its membership;
  3. To offer a “soft landing” to corporates creating IP functions for the first time in Ireland or moving new IP functions into the country.  
Unified Patent Court - The Irish Business Case pdf | 691.6 kb