As of 28th June 2022, the Irish Government has confirmed that Ireland will join the EU’s Unitary Patent System and Unified Patent Court system which will enforce Unitary Patents. However, Ireland cannot be a full participating member until the Irish electorate approves the necessary amendment to the Constitution by way of a referendum. Unfortunately, the Government does not believe it can hold such a referendum until 2023 or 2024.
It is expected that the new patent system, which will revolutionise the patent grant and enforcement procedures in the full participating members of the EU, will commence in late 2022 or early 2023 after the German Government deposits its instrument of ratification and satisfies the minimum number of EU countries needed for the new system to start operation.
For the first time ever, the EU will have its own unitary patent and specialist EU courts system to enforce these patents in the participating EU member countries. For the benefit of Irish industry and the major benefits the new system will bring, it is hoped that the Government can find an earlier time slot to put the ratification of this new system to the Irish people.
It is worth noting though that the term “unitary” patent is a bit of a misnomer. Whilst Unitary Patents will make it possible to get patent protection by submitting a single request to the EPO and a single renewal fee will be payable, protection does not extend to all 38 Contracting States of the European Patent Convention or even to all 27 EU Member States, but only to 25 of these. The 25 states participating are: AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, BULGARIA, Cyprus, Czech Republic, DENMARK, ESTONIA, FINLAND, FRANCE, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, ITALY, LATVIA, LITHUANIA, LUXEMBOURG, MALTA, THE NETHERLANDS, Poland, PORTUGAL, Romania, Slovakia, SLOVENIA, SWEDEN. Only 16 of these (in CAPS) have so far ratified the UPCA, with Germany making this 17 once it triggers the commencement of the UPC.
We will be holding a webinar on Unitary Patents and the UPC on 23rd August. Book a free spot through Eventbrite to learn more about the latest updates on the UPC.