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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

Launch of WIPO’s IP Diagnostics Resource

September 2021

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has launched a free, comprehensive self-assessment IP Diagnostics tool designed to help small businesses identify their IP assets and determine how to protect, manage and leverage these assets to unlock new commercial opportunities. The questionnaire style assessment allows users to learn the basics of IP by reviewing their own business activities and assets. On completion of the assessment, users will receive a customised report that can be used to begin developing an IP strategy.  

WIPO IP Diagnostics is a useful tool for small businesses to become acquainted with the practical advantages of the IP system. It can also function as a useful resource for business intermediaries who may rely on it to complement their IP advisory services for businesses.

For more information please visit WIPO IP Diagnostics.

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Survey on Intellectual Property Support Services to SMEs

6 September 2021

Intellectual Property and Innovation Ecosystem Sector (IES) of WIPO is inviting organisations in Member States acting as intermediaries to SMEs to complete a short online survey on the nature and extent of intellectual property (IP) support services provided by them to businesses and SMEs in particular. Such organisations include government institutions that support SMEs, business associations, chambers of commerce, business support organizations, incubators, technology parks, accelerators, innovation agencies, export development agencies, organizations that support start-ups.

The information collected will be made publicly available in a database which will enable local SMEs to identify sources of support.

The survey is accessible on the WIPO website: Survey on Intellectual Property Support Services to SMEs

EU Directive 2019/790 – Copyright and Related Rights in the Digital Single Market  Information Note for copyright stakeholders and other interested parties

25 May 2021

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has produced this Information Note to offer additional clarity on its approach to the transposition of EU Directive on Copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (EU) 2019/790.

EU Directive 2019/790 – Copyright and Related Rights in the Digital Single Market – Information Note

European Commission Public Consultation on the revision of the EU legislation on design protection 

May 2021

Delivering on the actions contained in the European Commission’s Intellectual Property Action Plan, the Commission has launched a Public Consultation on the revision of EU legislation on industrial design protection.

The public consultation relates to industrial designs protection, that is, the rights which protect the appearance of a product resulting from its attributes such as shape, colours or materials. The public consultation seeks to obtain views of all those affected by design protection in Europe on selected issues, such as whether rules on spare parts protection should be changed, as well as potential policy options in view of the review of the Community Design Regulation (6/2002) and the Directive on the legal protection of designs (98/71/EC). The review of the rules follows an exhaustive evaluation of the EU legislation on design protection, which was supported by a comprehensive public consultation and two major economic and legal studies. The evaluation indicated that the rules are working well, however, there are certain shortcomings that need to be addressed to modernise the legal framework and make it fit for the digital age.

The Commission invites the views of all interested stakeholders affected by design protection in Europe on potential options for reform of industrial designs protection. While the consultation is directed at a broader public, the reply to certain questions will require legal expertise and experience in the relevant field.

Participants who wish to take part in the consultation should do so by 22 July 2021 by completing the questionnaire available at the following link: 

Public Consultation on the revision of the EU legislation on design protection 

Any questions regarding the consultation should be submitted directly to the European Commission using the Contact Form on the consultation page. 

Further information about the design protection initiative 

European Commission Public Consultation on EU-wide protection of geographical indications for non-agricultural products

May 2021

Geographical indications (GIs) are names of products which correspond to the products’ geographical national, regional or local origin and/or the producers’ know-how, and thus have the status of intellectual property (IP) rights. They identify a good as originating in a specific place where a particular quality, reputation or other characteristics are essentially attributable to its geographical origin (e.g., Donegal tweed, Murano glass, Solingen cutlery).

There is currently no EU-wide system for protecting the geographical indications of non-agricultural products (such as handicrafts and industrial goods). The European Commission’s Intellectual Property Action Plan announced on 25 November 2020 referred to the Commission’s intention to examine the potential for the creation of an efficient and transparent EU GI protection system for such products.

The European Commission intends to run a thorough assessment of the impact of the potential costs and benefits of creating an efficient and transparent EU geographical indication protection system. The feedback received to the inception impact assessment is complemented by two comprehensive legal and economic studies. The public consultation aims at capturing more detailed views of all relevant stakeholders on the problems related to, among others, the existing legal protection of authentic geographically rooted non-agricultural products within the internal market; the benefits and risks of EU action; and the available policy options, including the control and enforcement of a future EU-protection system for such products.

Participants who wish to take part in the consultation should do so by 22 July 2021 by completing the questionnaire available at the following link:

Public Consultation of the EU-wide protection of Geographical Indications for non-agricultural products

Any questions regarding the consultation should be submitted directly to the European Commission using the ‘Contact Form’ on the consultation page.

Further information about the geographical indications initiative

Ideas Powered for Business SME Fund

The Ideas Powered for Business SME Fund is a €20 million grant scheme created to help European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop their IP strategies and protect their IP rights, at national or EU level. The scheme is operated by the EUIPO in conjunction with the national IP Offices including the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland.  

Commencing on 1 March 2021, Irish SME’s can receive 50% off the basic application fees of national and EU trade marks and designs. 

IPA4SME – successfully protecting intellectual property  

The IPA4SME programme, which first launched in May 2019, is a European Commission project which has been successfully accompanying small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) on their path to intellectual property (IP) valorisation, helping them to protect their valuable IP. To date, over 1.000 SMEs from 30 countries have benefited from the programme. 

IPA4SME offers SMEs that have been awarded the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Seal of Excellence a unique opportunity to acquire IP valorisation and protection by co-financing a range of IP-related services, worth up to €15,000. 

These services include free IP pre-diagnostics, where a verified IP expert provides the companies with a customised report on their IP business strategy and advises on how to exploit their assets efficiently and securely. Beneficiaries can also have their IP protection costs reimbursed, particularly IP attorney and European patent application fees. 

Open call  

The closing date for the eighth cut-off in the current call is 25 February 2021. This is an excellent chance for eligible SMEs to receive up to €15,000 to support their IP strategy or patent registration.

Interested SMEs can apply here

Feedback from beneficiaries in the previous cut-offs has been very positive – they found the action to be an excellent chance to summarise, reflect on and improve their IP strategy. In general, thanks to the programme they are more aware of their IP situation and view the recommendations in the IP Diagnostic Report as critical for their long-term business strategies: Read some of their success stories

Feedback from beneficiaries shows that:

  • 97% of applicants are interested in additional support;
  • 87% of beneficiary SMEs have a better understanding of their IP and its value than before;
  • 90% consider the IP pre-diagnostic report a useful resource; and
  • 91% would recommend the IP pre-diagnostic to other innovative SMEs.

Information on IP valorisation services

IPA4SME also provides detailed information on the different IP valorisation services that are available, in addition to what actions selected beneficiaries should take to access these services: View the webinars

For more information on IPA4SME and its services, visit ipa4sme.eu. To keep up to date on IPA4SME actions and events, make sure to follow the programme on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook

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.

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

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.

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