Ireland delays Unitary Patent referendum

October 3, 2017

The referendum needed in Ireland to enable ratification of the Unitary Patent Agreement does not seem to be a top priority of the government. The prime minister announced a list of referenda he wants to conduct in the nest two years, and the UP referendum was not on it.

Prime minister (taoiseach) Leo Varadkar announced a list eight referenda he wants to hold between now and June 2019. Amendments to the constitution are only possible in Ireland by way of referendum. Which is why the Irish will cast their vote in the next two years on topics like abortion, blasphemy and reducing the voting age.

Not on the list is a referendum on a change in the constitution that would enable the establishment of the Unified Patent Court. Like several other countries, Irish national law currently does not allow an external law system (the UPC) to overrule national sovereignty. With a pending court case, this has also proven to be a sensitive matter in Germany.

‘More clarity needed’
Whether Ireland concerns the UPC a sensitive issue or simply not a priority, is at this point not clear. It could just as well be that the Irish, eying the Brexit, decide to temporarily put their focus elsewhere.

According to The Irish Times the only thing that was said on the matter is that the government is ‘to seek further clarity before proceeding with any such vote’.

Regardless of the intentions behind the decision, the absence of such a referendum does mean that the UPC will not be ruling of Ireland anytime soon.