By John Kennedy
Ireland has overhauled its patenting rules to make patent applications more user-friendly and the awarding of patents more in line with US and European standards.
Information Society Minister Conor Lenihan TD said today that changes have been made to 34 aspects of the existing set of rules.
He said the increased levels of research in Ireland over recent years had created a corresponding need to protect the resulting intellectual property. “Our patent, design and trade mark protection systems have to be as accessible and as easy to use as we can make them”.
The new changes include removing legal impediments to the online delivery of Patent Office services. The Office website – www.patentsoffice.ie- already offers a range of online interactive services on a par with - and in some cases, exceeding those provided by other national patent offices in Europe.
Its services include fortnightly online publication of the Official Journal that can be viewed and searched by users free of charge. It also provides online access to the patents, trademarks and design databases and registers as well as the option of online electronic payment.
The fact that 80pc of all renewal fees are now paid online underlines the success of that facility, said Lenihan.
The new rules provide a more user-friendly process for patent applicants. Changes are made to 34 aspects of the existing set of rules, which mainly date from 1992.
The changes bring Irish rules more fully into line with European and worldwide standards and provide a straightforward patenting system, making use of available technology for easier access to intellectual property protection.
Minister Lenihan said that the increased levels of research in Ireland over recent years had created a corresponding need to protect the resulting intellectual property. “Our patent, design and trade mark protection systems have to be as accessible and as easy to use as we can make them.”
The new patent rules will make it easier for people to use the services of the Patents Office.
“Innovation in the global market is not defined by the number of patents granted nationally. This government has worked to bring foreign direct investment to Ireland with a particular focus on highly skilled research and development. These multinational companies patent their products on a global level with many patent applications lodged in the US.”
Irish companies marketing their products often strategically choose to apply for a European patent rather than a national patent as this provides greater protection for their innovative product in a much larger market.
Patent applications to the European Patents Office from Irish applicants have increased by 279pc since 2002 and grants of European patents to Ireland have also increased by 32pc in the same period.
As the cycle from patent application to grant takes on average five years, there will be an ongoing marked increase in European patents granted to Ireland in the coming years.
Latest figures for patent filings in 2008 show Ireland currently ranks 14th for European patent applications of the then-34 countries in the European Patent Organisation and 23rd in the wider Patent Cooperation Treaty rankings, which cover most countries in the world.
“The statistics show that Ireland is boxing above its weight and competing successfully in intellectual property creation and in its protection. The new patent rules which we have now put in place will help us to develop and retain our position,” said Minister Lenihan.
The Patent (Amendment) Rules 2009 make 34 amendments to the existing Patent Rules 1992, as well as seven new fees and two changes to the existing schedule of fees. The consent and signature of the Minister of Finance was required for fees chargeable in respect of proceedings before the Controller of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks and the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan T.D. signed the Patent Amendment Rules and the Patents (Amendment) Act 2006 (Certain Provisions) (Commencement) Order 2009 on Thursday 21 May 2009.