The establishment of a new court described as crucial to securing the future of the so-called “knowledge economy” will require a referendum to amend the Constitution, possibly by the end of this year or early in 2016.
Last November, the Government confirmed that a local division of the Unified Patent Court will be established in Ireland, which would allow businesses to resolve disputes around intellectual property rights IPR locally rather than in other EU member states. A single court case will therefore decide on the validity of a patent throughout up to 25 states, eliminating the need for country-by-country litigation.
The European Commission has proposed the establishment of a “seamless, integrated single market for intellectual property rights”, which will also include the establishment of a unitary patent for Europe. Patent protection is essential in areas such as the development of drugs and medical equipment as well as tech devices such as smartphones and other consumer electronics. In the transport sector, the design of new fuel-efficient cars and trains relies on thousands of patents.
A 2011 commission document described intellectual property rights as “key assets of the EU economy”. But it also said the current European system was “complex, fragmented and costly”, with different decisions in different member states creating “legal uncertainty”.