The Unified Patent Court (UPC) opened its doors on 1 June 2023 to hear matters relating to the validity and infringement of the new unitary patent and also European patents that have been made effective in various European states. At the time the doors opened only 17 EU states had ratified the Agreement to the UPC. A handful of other EU states have signed the Agreement, but to date, no further state has formally ratified.

However, this may be about to change – on the 23 January 2024 the Irish government confirmed that Ireland will hold a referendum in June on whether to join the UPC. Ireland is required to pass a constitutional amendment in order to ratify its membership as the UPC is an international court and ratifying the Agreement will involve a transfer of jurisdiction to the UPC.

Interestingly, if Ireland were to ratify the Agreement then it would become the only “common law” jurisdiction within the member states. The UK which also operates a “common law” system withdrew from the UPC in 2020 following the UK’s decision to leave the EU. An Irish local court division would therefore offer a different viewpoint on patent infringement matters and arguably add to the range of litigation forums for litigants. Moreover, since the Court of Appeal (based in Luxembourg) is to hear cases in the language of the Court of First Instance it is anticipated that the English-speaking, Irish local division may become quite a popular forum for UK and US based litigants for example.


Credit: Elliott Davies from Wynne Jones IP


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