No imminent referendum on Unified Patent Court
There is no imminent referendum on Ireland’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) despite misleading reports to that effect, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has said.
The Law Society Gazette claimed this week that Robert Troy, minister of state for trade promotion, had announced a referendum on the matter was “imminent”.
However, a spokesperson for the Department told Irish Legal News: “A report published this week that a referendum on the ratification of the Unified Patent Court was ‘imminent’ and could take place ‘early next year’ was inaccurate. No such comment was made by Minister Troy.”
They added: “This report has subsequently been corrected to reflect the current state of play.”
Ireland has been a signatory to the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) since 2013, but it is unclear when the new arrangements, intended to significantly reduce the cost of patent litigation to patent holders in the EU, will come into place.
The Department spokesperson said: “In order to come into effect, the UPCA must be ratified by a minimum of 13 participating states, which must include the three states with the largest numbers of European patents in effect, originally France, Germany and the UK.
“Ratification has been delayed in Germany pending the recently resolved outcome of a constitutional challenge. The recent withdrawal by the UK has also delayed the entry into force of the UPCA and has raised questions on how the UPCA will progress.
“The current timetable for entry into force of the UPCA is therefore indeterminate and it is difficult to predict a start date.”
They added: “As Ireland’s participation in the Unified Patent Court is not mandated by its membership of the EU, a referendum must be passed with respect to the transfer of jurisdiction for certain patent litigation from the Irish courts to the new international court.
“Government has approved the hosting of a local division of the court in Ireland, subject to the successful outcome of the referendum and subsequent ratification of the agreement.
“When there is greater clarity on the timeframe for the UPCA coming into effect, Ireland will move forward with its own ratification process which requires a constitutional referendum as the agreement involves the transfer of jurisdiction for certain patent litigation from the Irish courts to the new international court.”