Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Questions (21)

Pearse Doherty


16 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the steps he is taking to promote Irish owned business to apply for patents and safeguard intellectual property rights. [4118/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)

My Department, through the work of the Patents Office, Enterprise Ireland and the County Enterprise Boards offers a range of supports to assist and enable Irish entrepreneurs and enterprises to engage in the optimal exploitation of innovation, research and development and to apply for patents. The Patents Office provides information supports to applicants through the Office's regarding patenting procedures in Ireland and abroad. The Patents Office also provides an Intellectual Property (IP) clinic service providing members of the public, inventors, entrepreneurs and business people an opportunity to discuss on a one to one basis with Patents Office staff their ideas and matters concerning IP.

Since April 2010, the Patents Office, Enterprise Ireland, the Enterprise Europe Network and County Enterprise Boards have partnered to present a series of one day free seminars at a range of regional locations under the working title of "Building a Business on your Ideas". Support nationally and locally for micro enterprises, small businesses and new start ups is provided through the wide range of assistance offered by the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and Enterprise Ireland. Both the CEBs and Enterprise Ireland tailored programmes and supports in the form of grants, business advice, training and mentoring elements of which are directed at ensuring that innovative technologies and intellectual property are secured and protected.

EI has strengthened the resources dedicated to the promotion and use of intellectual property and have recently appointed (January 2012) an Intellectual Property Manager, whose role is to act as the central point in EI for enquiries and advice on IP matters as a strategic tool in business development. In addition, EI's Technology Transfer Strengthening Programme drives the national effort in transferring IP from the research base in the HEIs and Research Institutes in Ireland into industry, while the Technology Partnering Programme aims at partnering Irish client companies with multi-national corporations with a view to facilitating access to and promotion of significant technologies via licensing of IP and technology spin-outs. EI also provides funding support for innovative High Potential Start-Ups under which assistance is provided towards the patent costs of the company to protect its in-house intellectual property. Under the EI R&D Fund patent costs are an eligible expenditure item which can be included in the support offered.

While it is first and foremost a matter for owners of IP to decide on the best way to protect IP rights, those owners can be confident that the Government is committed to ensuring Irish IP legislation reflects best practice in IP protection systems in Europe and elsewhere. Indeed, the Government has been making a sustained effort over recent years to ensure that patent, trademark, industrial design and copyright laws, among other IP areas, are kept as up to date as possible. This work arises primarily in the context of EU and other international obligations.

In the area of patents, my Department continues to make it easier for enterprises to patent their innovations. The Patents Amendment Bill 2011, currently in the Seanad, will enable Ireland to implement the London Agreement with the effect of lowering the current high level of translation costs for patent applicants. At EU level, Ireland is actively participating in the enhanced cooperation process for a unitary patent that will further reduce costs for Irish innovators wishing to obtain patent protection across Europe.