Referendum on EU patent court will not be held in June, Government confirms

Referendum On Eu Patent Court Will Not Be Held In June, Government Confirms
A spokesperson did not indicate whether the vote would be held during the lifetime of this Government. Photo: PA Images
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Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

A referendum on joining an EU patent court will not be held in June as planned, the Government has confirmed.

The Unified Patent Court aims to make it easier for businesses and inventors to copyright their ideas and inventions across the EU, meaning they would only need to make one patent application instead of several.


The court opened in June last year and has 17 countries as members.

The Irish Government said in January it had approved the drafting of a Bill that would allow Ireland to take part in the patent court.

On Tuesday, Minister for Enterprise Peter Burke confirmed that the Government had on Tuesday morning agreed to defer the date for the referendum.



A second date has not been put forward, and a spokesperson did not confirm whether a referendum would be held on the issue during the lifetime of this Government.

“While the Government continues to believe that joining the UPC is essential and that the referendum should be pursued, it is clear to me that more time is needed for public discourse and engagement on the matter to help inform the debate,” Mr Burke said.


“The June elections will give rise to diverse issues and campaigns involving local and European candidates, which may crowd out a debate on the patent court.

“Feedback suggests that many people are unfamiliar with the patent court and there is not a significant level of awareness among the electorate ahead of the proposed referendum.”

He said he remained committed to Ireland participating in the UPC and its benefits for the economy.

“We need to have a broader discussion around the importance of unitary patents, the jurisdictional matters relating to the court, and the economic benefits that joining the UPC would bring,” he added.


“However, I believe considered debate around these subjects would be in danger of being lost among the other issues that will dominate the campaigns over the coming seven weeks.”

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said at the weekend that the Government was “running out of time” to hold the referendum on the same date as local and European elections, June 7th.

The Fianna Fáil leader, who directed the campaign for a Yes vote in what he called the Lisbon Two referendum, said referendums should be held separate to elections so there is time to discuss issues.

He denied the suggestion that the Government was afraid to run another plebiscite after a double rejection of two proposals in March.


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