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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 Intellectual Property Office of Ireland 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

Commission publishes a new Action Plan on Intellectual Property

25 November 2020 -  The EU Commission published a new Action Plan on Intellectual Property to help companies, especially small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), to make the most of their inventions and creations and ensure they can benefit our economy and society.

Intellectual property (IP) is a key driver for economic growth as it helps companies to valorise their intangible assets. The Action Plan aims at enabling the European creative and innovative industry to remain a global leader and at speeding up Europe's green and digital transitions. In particular, the Action Plan sets out key steps to improve the protection of IP; to boost the uptake of IP by SMEs; to facilitate the sharing of IP to increase the technological uptake in the industry; to fight counterfeiting and improve the enforcement of IP rights; and to promote a global level playing field. The coronavirus crisis has also highlighted certain dependencies on critical innovation and technologies so the Action Plan addresses these challenges while making sure that critical IP can be made available in time of crisis.

Intangible assets such as brands, designs, patents and data are increasingly important in today's knowledge economy. IP-intensive industries account for 45% of all GDP and 93% of all EU exports, while the added value of IP is growing across most European industrial ecosystems. Globally, IP filings are on the rise, as intangible assets play an increasing role in the global race for technological leadership. The Action Plan builds on the strengths of the European IP framework to ensure that it supports our economic recovery and resilience in key economic areas.

The Action Plan has announced five key areas:

  • Improving the protection of IP
  • Boost the uptake of IP by SMEs
  • Facilitate the sharing of IP
  • Fight counterfeiting and improve enforcement of IP rights
  • Promote a global level playing field

The full action plan ‘Making the most the EU’s innovative potential – An intellectual property action plan to support the EU’s recovery and resilience’ is available here: Action Plan on Intellectual Property

European Citizens and Intellectual Property: Perception, Awareness and Behaviour 2020

The European Union Intellectual Property Office has published its IP Perception Study 2020.

This updated major study of how IP rights are perceived by EU citizens is a unique roadmap for all the EU countries when it comes to counterfeiting and piracy attitudes and behaviours. The study shows a gradual but encouraging change in understanding and attitudes, following the previous surveys by the EUIPO in 2013 and 2017.

As in the previous editions, this EU-wide study confirms that the vast majority of citizens agree that it is important that those who invest time and money in innovation have their rights protected.

It is shown that those surveyed are gradually saying that they have a better understanding of IP rights, which is an important finding, given the evidence that those who understand these rights are less likely to deliberately infringe them.

Commission’s evaluation report in relation to EU legislation on Design Protection

The Commission has concluded an evaluation of EU legislation on design protection. The results presented in the evaluation report, published on 6 November 2020, show that EU legislation on designs works well overall and that it is still broadly fit for purpose. However, the evaluation revealed a number of shortcomings that need to be addressed to make the legal framework fit to support the digital and green transition of EU industry, and to become substantially more accessible and efficient for industries, SMEs and individual designers. These shortcomings include in particular a lack of clarity and robustness of certain key elements of design protection (subject matter, scope of rights and limitations), outdated or overly complicated procedures, inappropriate fee levels and fee structure, lack of coherence of the procedural rules and an incomplete single market for spare parts.

The purpose of the evaluation is to analyse to what extent the current EU legislation on design protection has achieved its objectives in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, coherence and EU added value.  It also provides clear indications of the degree to which that legislation is still considered to be fit for purpose.

The evaluation provides a solid evidence base, allowing to draw conclusions on the impacts of the original objectives and the need for improvements, modernisation and streamlining. Eventually, it may feed into an impact assessment study for a possible amendment of the Directive and the Regulation and/or other targeted initiatives.

Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property Policy

WIPO is leading a Conversation on Intellectual Property (IP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) bringing together Member States and other stakeholders to discuss the impact of Al on IP, with a view to collectively formulating the questions that policymakers need to ask.

AI has emerged as a general-purpose technology with widespread applications throughout the economy and society and is having a significant impact on the creation, production and distribution of economic and cultural goods and services. The Conversation on AI and IP policy aims to provide a forum to advance the understanding of the IP issues involved.

Overview and next steps in the process

WIPO held a First Session of the Conversation on AI and IP in September 2019. In December 2019 WIPO published a draft issues paper for consultation to provide the basis for a shared understanding of the main questions that need to be discussed or addressed in relation to IP policy and AI.

More than 250 submissions were received in the consultation process and a Revised Issues Paper was published in May 2020.

A Second Session of the WIPO Conversation on IP and AI took place in July 2020. Over 2,000 people from 130 countries, including representatives of Member States, academic, scientific and private organizations joined the meeting in a virtual format. The written interventions are available in searchable format.

The third WIPO conversation on IP and AI will take place on 4 November 2020. It will be a virtual meeting and will be open to the public. 

WIPO is also currently developing preliminary considerations for IP policy on a number of questions raised by AI for IP policy for discussion by Member States and other stakeholders. 

European Commission Targeted Consultation on Article 17 of the New Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (Directive 2019/790/EC)

10 August 2020 - The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (Directive 2019/790/EC, the ‘DSM Directive’) requires the European Commission to issue guidance on the application of Article 17, in particular regarding the cooperation between online content-sharing service providers and rightsholders. The guidance is intended to reflect discussions that took place at stakeholder dialogue meetings hosted by the Commission in October 2019 and February 2020 at which the views of relevant stakeholders on the main aspects of Article 17 were gathered.

The Commission was unable to continue the stakeholder dialogue process due to the current Covid-19 situation. They would therefore like to gather stakeholder views on a consultation document they have published setting out its initial ideas for Article 17 Guidance.

Targeted consultation on Article 17 of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market

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Intellectual Property: Archived notices

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