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 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

WIPO Global Awards 2024 competition

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Global Awards celebrates exceptional enterprises and individuals making smart use of intellectual property for commercialisation while also bringing a positive contribution to society through their innovation and creativity.

The Awards are open to SMEs and startups and aim to encourage the commercialisation of IP assets by rewarding inventors, creators and entrepreneurs using intellectual property (IP) rights to achieve their business goals, generate income, create jobs, tackle local and global challenges, and support community and national development.

Applications should be submitted by 31 March 2024 and winners will be announced in July 2024.

How to make an application

More information on the awards and how to make an application are available on WIPO Global Awards.

Download the Open-Call Information Flyer: WIPO Global Awards 2024 - Call for applications (PDF, 278KB)

Economic impact of counterfeiting in the clothing, cosmetics, and toy sectors in the EU

The European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights (the Observatory) has published a study on the economic impact of counterfeiting in the clothing, cosmetics, and toy sectors in the EU. The study assesses the economic impact of counterfeiting in sales and employment in three sectors; clothing including footwear, cosmetics and toys. 

The main findings of the study: 

  • the legitimate clothing industry lost almost €12 billion of revenue as an annual average in 2018-2021, representing 5.2% of clothing sales in the EU
  • as a consequence of sales lost due to counterfeiting, the clothing industry employed 160,000 fewer people each year in the same period
  • the estimated lost cosmetics sales due to counterfeiting amount to €3 billion, corresponding to 4.8% of total sales
  • the lost employment in the EU cosmetics industry is estimated at almost 32,000 people
  • the toy sector suffers the highest ratio of sales lost due to counterfeiting: 8.7 %, corresponding to €1 billion
  • the toy sector employed 3,600 fewer people due to counterfeiting

The full report is available at Economic impact of counterfeiting in the clothing, cosmetics, and toy sectors in the EU.

Geographical indications for craft and industrial products 

On 13 April 2022, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation on geographical indication for craft and industrial products. The regulation provides for a harmonised regulatory framework for geographical indication (GI) protection for craft and industrial products at EU level. 

The regulation was formally adopted and signed by the European Parliament and the Council on 18 October 2023 and was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 27 October 2023. The regulation entered into force on 16 November 2023 and all EU member states have two years to implement the regulation into their national legislation.  

Further information on geographical indications

EU design reform package 

On 28 November 2022, the European Commission published a reform package on industrial design protection, consisting of:

  • Directive (recast) of the European Parliament and of the Council to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to industrial designs
  • Regulation amending Council Regulation (EC) No. 6/2002 on Community Designs and repealing Commission Regulation (EC) No 2246/2002 

On 25 September 2023, the Council adopted its position (‘general approaches’) on a directive for the legal protection of industrial designs and an amended EU regulation on Community designs. The Council’s General Approach provides a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament and for the EU Trilogue process that commenced on 15 November 2023. 

Further information on the EU design reform package