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

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