New patent scoreboard highlights need for speedy ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement

April 05, 2022

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, today called for Ireland’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement, following publication of the European Patent Office (EPO)’s Patent Index 2021. The Patent Index covers an analysis of demand for patents in Europe, rankings of the top countries, technical fields, and latest technology trends. The key message is that there is an increasing demand for European patents, and countries signed up to the Unified Patent Court Agreement are expected to be stronger performers and patent leaders in the coming years. 

Ibec Head of Enterprise & Regulatory Affairs, Aidan Sweeney said: “Ireland is home to some of the world’s most innovative companies and consistently competes for R&D projects of major scale in areas such as pharma, medical devices, and technology. These are the amongst the top technology fields for patenting in Ireland. Patent-intensive industries in Ireland generate a quarter of the total GDP and contribute to considerable employment for the country. 

“In terms of European patent applications per capita filed in 2021, Ireland ranks 10th globally with 187.5 EPO applications per million inhabitants. This is greater than South Korea, France, and the US. The Irish rate is almost double that of the UK and two and half times greater than Italy. However, when Ireland is compared to other small, innovative nations, the picture is somewhat different. Serious work will be needed to close the gap on competitor locations such as Sweden, Denmark, or the Netherlands, with patenting rates around twice the current Irish rate. It is significant to note that these countries have already ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement, and unlike Ireland, are ready to participate in the new European patent system when it begins.

“The EPO Patent Index 2022 confirms that Europe is quickly becoming a global hub of IP activity. Demand for European patents is at record levels, and this is ahead of the commencement of the new unified patent system (including the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court) in Europe. This will create a simpler and more efficient mechanism for obtaining and enforcing patents in Europe. It is truly pan-European, and it provides a degree of levelling up for smaller countries, allowing those with ambition to seize on the opportunities it presents. Competitor countries are already in the new patent system, so Ireland could fall further behind.

“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. The urgency for Ireland to set out its timetable for its ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement has never been greater. It is on course to start later this year. Other countries are already positioning themselves as hubs for end-to-end IP activities, including enforcement. We must not miss out.”