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Pledge for vote on unified patent court by 2024
Pic: Shutterstock

29 Jun 2022 / IP Print

Pledge for vote on unified patent court by 2024

The Government has confirmed that it will hold a referendum to enable Ireland to participate in the European Unitary Patent system and Unified Patent Court (UPC).

It won’t be a standalone referendum, but could be next year or concurrent with the local and European elections in 2024.

A total of 24 EU member states have currently signed up to the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA), establishing a new Unitary Patent System and the Unified Patent Court (UPC).

Of these, 16 have so far ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement and signed up to its provisional application. These are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden.

The remaining member states that have signed up, but have yet to ratify, are: Cyprus, Czechia, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Romania, and Slovakia.

The start of the UPC’s operations will be triggered once Germany ratifies the agreement.


The UPC is an international court set up by the participating member states to deal with the infringement and validity of both Unitary Patents and European patents. Its rulings will apply in all member states that have ratified the UPCA.

National patents granted by national patent offices are not affected.

In the event of a legal dispute arising from patent infringement or invalidation, the UPC will enable patent proprietors to defend or challenge a patent via a single litigation process, instead of having to take multiple actions in individual member states. 

Faster judicial procedures

The Government says that this will save money and time, and provide easier, faster, and more efficient judicial procedures and enhanced legal certainty through harmonised case law in the areas of patent infringements and validity.

A UPC will reduce costs for patent proprietors with renewal fees applying across the participating member states.

A simplified court system will also allow for consistency of judicial approach in patent cases in all member states participating in the UPC, which will also eliminate the need to deal with multiple national court systems to enforce patent rights.

The UPC will also provide a significantly cheaper approach to litigating European IP disputes by providing a single litigation system to enforce those patents.

Greater choice for innovators, researchers, businesses, and SMEs is also expected as a result. Once the Unitary Patent comes into effect, patent proprietors will be able to choose between the protection of a national patent, a traditional European Patent, or a Unitary Patent.

Multiple litigations

Research-and-development activities are expected to increase as business resources are deflected from multiple national litigations.

The Government believes that access to a streamlined Europe-wide patent protection may act as an incentive for Irish businesses to export to a greater number of countries.

The Government believes that access to a streamlined Europe-wide patent protection may act as an incentive for Irish businesses to export to a greater number of countries.

 A local division hosted in Ireland will also allow IP litigation on Irish soil, increasing work for legal services and patent agencies.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “A single Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court is good for business and for SMEs. It will save money and time, and give all parties more certainty.”

He added that preparation is important in terms of a public information campaign.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland