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Irish Participation in the Unified Patent Court: Update on Referendum

Irish Participation in the Unified Patent Court: Update on Referendum

European Industry news News UPC 15/04/2024

There are some recent media reports in relation to Ireland's potential participation in the Unified Patent Court (UPC). While a referendum on the issue was originally planned for June alongside the European and local elections, there is some speculation that this vote may possibly be postponed.

Taoiseach Simon Harris has expressed concerns that preparations for a June referendum would be rushed. The Government is expected to make a final decision next week on whether to proceed with the vote. Newly appointed Minister for Enterprise, Peter Burke, is expected to present a proposal outlining the next steps in the process to the Cabinet.


Background on the Unified Patent Court

Ireland agreed to join the UPC system in 2013. Ratification requires a constitutional amendment to Article 29, as it involves transferring patent litigation jurisdiction from Irish courts to an EU body – the Unified Patent Court.

Potential Benefits of the UPC

The UPC and the related Unitary Patent system provide further options for innovators to protect their inventions and enforce their patent rights in a centralised and cost-effective manner.  The Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec) has expressed strong support for Ireland's participation in the UPC. They believe it would significantly benefit the country, particularly in fostering growth within patent-intensive sectors.

Current Status of the UPC

The Unified Patent Court became operational in June 2023, and 17 EU member states are already participating. The UPC has enjoyed significant progress with a busy workload in the first year of operation.

Expected Timeline

If the referendum is to be delayed, the revised timeline for the referendum or next steps for Ireland's participation may  be announced after the Cabinet meeting.

Stay Informed

For more details on the UPC and its implications for Ireland, please visit our dedicated UPC section here. Unified Patent Court (UPC) Information (