Ten years after the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA) was signed, the Unified Patent Court (UPC) came into force on 1 June 2023 in the seventeen EU member states that ratified the UPCA.
Ireland is not amongst those seventeen states, and while it is a signatory to the UPCA, a referendum is required to ratify Ireland’s participation.
In May, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney, noted that preparatory work is underway for that referendum:
The preparatory work under way includes drafting a constitutional amendment Bill, along with a regulatory impact assessment. Amendments to the national patent legislation will also be required to recognise both the new unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court agreement. A local division of the Unified Patent Court will be created in Ireland if the State ratifies the agreement under which the court is established.
When pressed on the importance of expediting the referendum, Minister Coveney replied that “the most important thing is that we get this passed as soon as we can but also that we do not risk its success by going at the wrong time.”
Opining on the benefits of establishing a local unitary patent court in Ireland, Minister Coveney said that it will “offer users an accessible, cost-effective and more efficient option for broad patent protection and dispute settlement across Europe”.
As to when the referendum might be held, Minister Coveney stated that while it is anticipated that there will be at least one referendum in autumn 2023, it is more likely that the referendum on ratifying Ireland’s decision to the join the UPC will be held alongside next year’s local and European elections.
Contributed by Aisling Casey