What We Do

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) refers to the creations of the mind, such as inventions (patents); literary and artistic works (copyright); new product designs (industrial designs); and brand-names, symbols, or logos used to distinguish products and services from one undertaking from another (trade marks).

IP is a powerful tool for individuals and enterprises to help control their property rights. Ireland has in place a strong legal framework and intellectual property system that offers IP right holders the opportunity to be rewarded for their creativity and innovation and enabling society at large and the economy to benefit from their achievements.

Formal IP rights include patentstrade marks and industrial designs so called because they can be registered. Copyright is a different type of intellectual property relating to creations of the mind and is seen in everyday life in creative works such as books, films, music, art and software, as well as in more mundane objects such as cars, computers and medicines. Other types of informal IP rights include Plant Variety Rights, Geographical Indications of Origin, Trade Secrets and Topographies of Integrated circuits. For further information please see other IP Rights.

The Intellectual Property Unit of the Department is responsible for Ireland’s policy and legislation on IP that reflects developments in intellectual property policy and practice domestically, at EU level and in terms of international obligations to which Ireland is committed through various international agreements. 

The Irish Patents Office is responsible for the granting of patents; the registration of industrial designs and trade marks; and has certain functions in relation to copyright and related rights.

What’s current in Intellectual Property

Public consultation on the transposition of Trade Marks Directive (EU) 2015/2436

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has launched a public consultation on the transposition of Directive (EU) 2015/2436 of the European Parliament and of the Council to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks.

The specific objectives of the recast of the Directive are to modernise and improve the existing provisions of the Directive by amending outdated provisions, increasing legal certainty and clarifying trade mark rights in terms of their scope and limitations; achieve greater approximation of national trade mark laws and procedures with the aim of making them more consistent with the European trade mark system; and facilitate cooperation between the offices of the Member States and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for the purpose of promoting convergence of practices

The closing date for submissions is Friday 10 November 2017.

Portability Regulation Published in the Official Journal of the European Union

On 30 June 2017 the Portability Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. This regulation will allow EU consumers to access their online subscriptions, such as Netflix and Sky TV, while travelling in the EU on a temporary basis. Currently, many online streaming and on-demand services are tailored to individual markets with different content available in each Member State. However, under the new Portability Regulation consumers will be able to log in to their own personal accounts while travelling in the EU and continue to view their favourite movies and television shows as if they were at home.

The measure is the first important copyright modernisation that has come about under the Commission's Digital Market Strategy published in May 2015. The Portability Regulation will apply from 20 March 2018.

Knowledge Development Box

The Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (as amended by the Finance Act 2015) introduced the Knowledge Development Box (KDB) which is a lower rate of corporation tax on profits arising from intellectual property assets that are the result of R&D.

The Knowledge Development Box (Certification of Inventions) Act 2017 (No 6 of 2017) came into operation on 19 May 2017. This Act allows small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) apply to the Controller of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks for a Knowledge Development Box Certificate. This Certificate will form part of the eligibility criteria set out in the KDB tax legislation for SMEs wishing to avail of the lower rate of corporation tax. The IP asset must be novel, non-obvious and useful.

The Knowledge Development Box (Certification of Inventions) Act 2017 also provides for the re-introduction of substantive examination of Irish patents. Patents granted following substantive examination will also be eligible to qualify for the lower rate of corporation tax.

Department’s response to its consultation on the overlap of intellectual property protection between Industrial Designs and Copyright law

In 2016 the Department published a consultation paper inviting submissions on the overlap of intellectual property protection between Industrial Designs and Copyright.

The Department received submissions from a number of respondents and has, since the closing date of the consultation, analysed the submissions received. In February 2017 the Department published its response to the consultation, alongside the submissions received.

The Department’s response addresses the issues raised by respondents to the consultation. It details the proposed legislative amendments that would provide for the extension of the term of copyright for designs and artistic works exploited by an industrial process to life of the creator plus 70 years. The response also sets out transitional arrangements that would provide replica furniture manufacturers with a 12 month period in which they will have the opportunity to deplete their stock.

We would like to thank all of the respondents to the consultation for their submissions.

Public consultation on the European Commission’s draft Implementing Regulation and Delegated Regulations in relation to European Union Trade Marks

Significant changes to the European trade mark law systems came  into effect in 2016 by way of the new Trade Mark Directive (EU) 2015/2436 and the new European Union Trade Mark Regulation (EU) 2015/2424. Most of the amendments to the Regulation, which sets out the rules applicable to EU trade marks, came directly into force on the 23 March 2016, but some secondary legislation in the form of implementing and delegated acts are also required to give full effect to the reform of the Trade Mark Regulation.  The Commission has now drafted this secondary legislation and as part of the Commission’s better regulation agenda, citizens and other stakeholders can provide feedback on these draft acts.  These draft implementing and delegated acts have now been published on the Commission's Better Regulation Portal for a 4-week feedback period.

Further information on this Public consultation is available on:

Public consultation on the European Commission’s draft Implementing Regulation and Delegated Regulations in relation to European Union Trade Marks

EU Copyright Reform

On 14 September 2016, the European Commission launched a series of legislative proposals aimed at modernising copyright, including a proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. These proposals follow from the December 2015 communication on copyright entitled 'Towards a modern, more European copyright framework' that set out the vision of the Commission to create a modern EU copyright framework fit for the digital age.

The full suite of proposals as well as the Commission’s background documents can be accessed via ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/modernisation-eu-copyright-rules.

Discussion on these proposals is ongoing at EU level and any views on the proposals may be submitted to the Department by email to copyright@djei.ie.

Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) (Miscellaneous Intellectual Property) Bill

In July 2016, the Government approved the drafting of a General Scheme of Bill entitled Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) (Miscellaneous Intellectual Property) Bill. The Bill is designed to progress a number of recommendations contained in the Report entitled “Modernising Copyright” published by the Copyright Review Committee in late 2013. Formal drafting of the Bill is ongoing in the Department in conjunction with the Office of the Parliamentary Council.

Trade Mark Reform Package: Big changes ahead for the National and European Trade Mark systems

The reform package comprises the biggest change to the legal landscape for European trade marks in over 20 years. The package consists of both procedural and substantive changes.

The purpose of the reforms are to foster innovation and economic growth by making trade mark registration systems all over the EU more accessible and efficient for businesses in terms of lower costs and complexity, increased speed, greater predictability and legal security. These revisions dovetail with efforts to ensure coexistence and complementarity between the Union and national trade mark systems.

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