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

Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019 (No. 19 of 2019)

9 July 2019

The Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019 was signed into law by President Higgins on 26 June 2019.

The Act amends the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 to take account of certain recommendations of the ‘Modernising Copyright’ report published by the Copyright Review Committee in 2013. The Act makes better provision for copyright and other intellectual property (IP) protection in the digital era and enables rightholders to better enforce their IP rights in the courts. It also includes provisions to take account of certain copyright exceptions permitted by Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.

Irish Statute Book: Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019

Further information on the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019

IE domain release

8 May 2019

The IE Domain Registry is releasing the domain names, post.ie, aero.ie, and coop.ie.

These names are being released following the .ie Policy Advisory Committee’s review of a policy change request to remove a restriction on registering .ie names that match top-level domain (TLD) extensions (such as .post, .aero, .coop).

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is a member of the .ie Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) and participated in discussions on this matter. The PAC provide advice to the Board of Directors of the IE Domain Registry (IEDR) on policy change requests for Ireland’s Internet top-level domain, .ie. Other stakeholders on the Committee include representatives from business organisations and from the wider Irish internet community. The PAC typically convenes on a quarterly basis to discuss the various policy change proposals under review.

As part of the upcoming domain release, trademark holders will be given the opportunity to register the names before they go on general release.

For further information please visit IE Domain Registry upcoming domain release.

European Union (Trade Marks) Regulations 2018 (SI 561 of 2018) and three other SIs

14 January 2019

  • This is the first major reform of trade mark law in over 20 years
  • The reform will make trade mark registration systems more accessible and efficient for businesses

Dublin, Ireland, Monday, 14 January The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, has introduced an overhaul of Irish trade mark law that will lead to lower costs and increased legal certainty for business. This reform follows an EU Directive which has been transposed into Irish law and is the first major reform of trade mark law in Ireland for over 20 years.

The Directive being transposed into Irish law reforms and modernises the trade mark system in Europe, further harmonises the national laws of EU Member States, streamlines procedures, facilitates cooperation, supports anti-counterfeiting measures and provides up-to-date means by which to protect a trade mark. All this better serves and reflects the modern business environment.

Minister Humphreys welcomed this development and said: “The reforms to Trade Mark system are intended to make national and EU trademark law fit for the challenges of business in the 21st Century. They include a wide range of innovations, both legal and technical, which will mean more efficiency for businesses. In practice, this translates into lower costs, greater predictability and more legal certainty.”

In Europe, a trade mark can be registered at national level at the Industrial Property (IP) offices of Member States, or at EU level as a European Union Trade Mark (EUTM) at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

While SMEs have become important users of the European system, they still regularly tend to prefer national systems because they may not need their trade mark to be protected at EU level. The introduction of new and amended provisions modernises Irish Trade law and procedures, whilst aiming to achieve greater approximation with the EUTM system and facilitate cooperation between the IP offices of the Member States and the EUIPO.

The Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan T.D. said: “This modernisation of Irish and EU trade mark law is a positive step forward as it aims to ensure that the trade mark system continues to remain effective in meeting the needs of business as technology develops.”

The Statutory Instruments transposing the Directive comes into effect on 14 January 2019.

Further information on the EU Trade Marks Reform package

European Union (Marrakesh Treaty) Regulations 2018 (SI No 412 of 2018)

October 2018

The European Union (Marrakesh Treaty Regulations) 2018 were signed into law by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD,  on 9 October 2018 and came into effect on 11 October 2018.

The Regulations transpose into Irish law EU Directive 2017/1564 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 September 2017 on certain permitted uses of certain works and other subject matter protected by copyright and related rights for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled and amending Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.

These Regulations allow for copies of copyright protected works (books, e-books, journals, newspapers, magazines and other kinds of writing) to be made available in accessible formats (e.g. Braille, large print, e-books or audiobook) for the blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print-disabled, without the permission of the rightsholder.

Further information on the EU (Marrakesh Treaty) Regulations 2018  

Public Consultation on measures to further improve the effectiveness of the fight against illegal content online

May 2018

Commission services have launched a public consultation on “measures to further improve the effectiveness of the fight against illegal content online”.  The deadline to submit replies is 25 June 2018.

The consultation is available at Public Consultation on measures to further improve the effectiveness of the fight against illegal content online

In case of questions please do not hesitate to contact DG CNECT at cnect-consultation-illegal-content@ec.europa.eu.

Entry into force of the EU Portability Regulation on 1 April 2018

April 2018

The European Commission launched its Digital Single Market Strategy in 2014 and one of the first measures adopted under this strategy was the Portability Regulation. This Regulation will allow EU consumers to have access to their online subscriptions to films, sports events, music streaming service, e-books and video games when travelling within the EU in the same way they access them at home. Up until recently, many online streaming and on-demand services were tailored to individual markets with different content available in each EU Member State. However, under the new rules 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.

All providers who offer paid online content services will have to follow the new rules, while providers of free content (such as the online services of public TV or radio broadcasters) will have the possibility to decide to also provide portability to their subscribers. Providers of online content will also benefit from the new rules as it will no longer be necessary for them to acquire licences for other territories where their subscribers are travelling to.

The portability regulation is applicable in all EU Member States from 1 April 2018. Further information on the Regulation can be found on the European Commission website.