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EU Agreements

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 4 November 2021

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Questions (183, 184, 185)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

183. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when Ireland will ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, 2013/C 175/01. [53766/21]

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Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

184. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason a referendum is required to ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court given this agreement purports to establish a court of limited jurisdiction as permitted by Article 34.3.4 of the Constitution. [53767/21]

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Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

185. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps that have been taken by Ireland to host the central division of the Unified Patent Court which has become available as a result of the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. [53768/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 183 to 185, inclusive, together.

The international Agreement on the Unified Patent Court, signed in February 2013, entails the establishment of an international court that will, when operational, have exclusive competence for actions for infringement and validity in respect of European patents.

To enter into force, the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA) must be ratified by 13 Member States including the three largest contracting states (by number of European patents). Originally, these were France, Germany, and the UK. The UK announced in February 2020 that following Brexit, it would not be participating in the UPCA. With the UK having withdrawn, those three countries are now France, Germany, and Italy. To date, 16 Member States have ratified the Agreement including France and Italy.

Several constitutional challenges had significantly delayed the German ratification, but they have now been resolved, and Germany has now passed the legislation enabling it to ratify the UPCA. Germany has also ratified the Protocol on Provisional Application (PPA). One further participating Member State is required to ratify the Protocol, so that it may enter into force and mark the start of the provisional application period (PAP). This will enable various final preparations to be undertaken so that the UPC can become fully operational.

As the Court will hold full competence in patent matters, it will take away from the full and original jurisdiction of the Irish Courts on the matter. Therefore, for Ireland to ratify the UPCA, a successful Constitutional referendum will be required to allow for the transfer of jurisdictional powers from our Courts to the new international Court.

A decision on the holding of a referendum on this issue will be kept under review in the context of the timing of the coming into force of the UPC. The timing of a referendum will be a matter for Government to decide. Consideration of issues in relation to the potential location of local and central divisions of the UPC in Ireland would have to await the outcome of any referendum.

Question No. 184 answered with Question No. 183.
Question No. 185 answered with Question No. 183.
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