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Government puts off patent-court referendum
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17 Apr 2024 / ip Print

Government puts off patent-court referendum

The Government has confirmed that a referendum to ratify an agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC) will not now go ahead on 7 June, the same day as the European and local elections.

Peter Burke (Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment) said that more time was needed for “public discourse and engagement” on the issue to help inform the debate.

He added that the Government still believed that joining the UPC was essential, and that the referendum should be pursued.

“The June elections will give rise to diverse issues and campaigns involving local and European candidates, which may crowd out a debate on the patent court,” the minister stated.

“Feedback suggests that many people are unfamiliar with the patent court, and there is not a significant level of awareness among the electorate ahead of the proposed referendum,” he added.


The UPC, which became operational on 1 June 2023, is a dedicated judicial system for litigating new unitary patents, and existing European patents that have not been specifically opted-out of the UPC’s jurisdiction.

The Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA), providing for the establishment of the court between contracting states, was signed in February 2013 by 25 EU member states – including Ireland.

An amendment to article 29 of the Constitution to add the UPC agreement as an international agreement is needed before Ireland can join the UPC, as it involves a transfer of jurisdiction in patent litigation from the Irish courts to an international court.

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