Unified Patent Court opens doors but Ireland still yet to ratify

Unified Patent Court opens doors but Ireland still yet to ratify

The new Unified Patent Court (UPC) has become operational with effect from today, with 17 EU member states initially participating in the new body — though Ireland is not yet one of them.

The UPC has jurisdiction over the new unitary patents as well as existing European patents and will allow companies to enforce their patent rights more effectively.

The new unitary patent system offers a cost-effective way for patent protection in the participating member states as it eliminates the need for national validation and renewal procedures in each EU country, which are costlier and more burdensome.

The UPC will facilitate the handling of patent disputes and allow for more consistent and predictable judicial framework. It will also eliminate the risk of divergent legal decisions in the participating member states, since a single action before the UPC will replace multiple parallel proceedings before national courts.

Two UK law firms with a focus on intellectual property law — Powell Gilbert and Bristows — are opening new offices in Dublin in response to the opening of the UPC.

However, Irish participation in the unitary patent system and the UPC will require a constitutional referendum as a result of strict constitutional provisions on the transfer of jurisdiction from Irish to international courts.

Simon Coveney, the minister for enterprise, trade and employment, last month said the government had not yet decided whether a referendum should take place this autumn or in 2024 alongside the local and European elections, with the latter “more likely”.

He added: “Whether we get this referendum passed in the late autumn or in the spring of next year does not make a huge difference. As long as we get it passed, we can then move quickly with the legislation on the setting up of the court. Either way, it is going to take some time to get that done.”

Commenting on the opening of the UPC from today, Klaus Grabinski, president of the UPC Court of Appeal, said: “The Unified Patent Court, that opens its digital doors as of today, will be the first court in civil and commercial matters shared by a multitude of EU member states before which companies, non-commercial organisations and individuals can litigate.

“More specifically, the court will make it possible to enforce a European patent across borders before only one court in only one infringement proceeding.

“The panels deciding on the cases will have an international composition of legally qualified judges who, most of the time, will be joined by a technically qualified judge.

“Due to its European structure and the quality of its judges most of which have a background as experienced patent judges in the national jurisdictions, it can be expected that the court will contribute to the development of a coherent and harmonised understanding of European patent law.”

Share icon
Share this article: