Business group IBEC has called on the Government to move quickly to ratify an agreement that creates a unified patent system across Europe.
A Unified Patent Court is expected to begin operating next year, and Ireland had previously committed itself to establishing a local division of the court.
A report from IBEC says Ireland is now lagging behind other countries in preparing for the new court structure, and urges the Government to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) that allows Ireland to participate.
This will require a referendum.
Benefits for SMEs
The organisation’s intellectual property (IP) group says that Ireland would “gain significantly” through participating in the specialist pan-European court system – but only if it moves quickly enough.
“Establishing a well-run and attractive local division that is ready to go when the UPC starts operating will be key to competing for patent litigation to be heard before the Dublin-based court,” IBEC’s report says.
The group says that the local court will need to demonstrate a reputation for quality and efficiency, and will need to be “actively and aggressively marketed” as a litigation venue.
IBEC believes an Irish division of the court would be of particular benefit to small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), who would have to take legal action in only one location to enforce their patent rights.
New legal offices
It adds that an English-speaking court, rooted in common-law tradition, would be attractive to European patent litigation that might otherwise have occurred in the UK.
The IBEC report also argues that a local patent court would lead to law firms setting up new offices in Ireland, as well as increased spending and employment in other professional and advisory services.
It believes the court could eventually create more than 1,200 jobs in its first seven years of operation.
The IBEC group also calls on the Government to launch a bid to host the part of the court’s central division that was previously designated to be in London.
This component is responsible for cases in the chemical, bio-pharmaceutical, and medical-device sectors.