In a press release yesterday, Ireland’s government reaffirmed its commitment to participate in the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC) system. Ireland was among the first countries to sign the UPC Agreement in February 2013 but has not yet ratified the Agreement. Participation in the UPC system requires an amendment to the Constitution, and any amendment must be approved in a referendum, which is likely to be in 2023 or 2024. Although previous governments have intended to hold a referendum, uncertainty about whether the UPC system would go ahead meant it was not a priority. In the press release Leo Varadkar (the Tánaiste, i.e. deputy prime minister, and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment) said:
“A single Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court is good for business and for SMEs. It will save money and time and give all parties more certainty. We will consider the other referenda we have coming up and see how best to fit this one in. It won’t be a standalone referendum, so it won’t be held this year anyway but could be next year or concurrent with the Local and European Elections in 2024. It’s important to prepare. I’m conscious that it will need a good public information campaign to explain its significance and that takes time, resources and planning.”
The press release confirms that if Ireland does join the UPC it will establish a local division.