The Department of Finance has said that, in order to implement some aspects of the new KDB regime, changes will be required to existing Irish patent legislation.
The Finance Bill 2015 provides for an additional category of assets (known as “intellectual property for small companies”) that qualify for the KDB where SMEs are concerned (see our previous article on the KDB here). The introduction of this additional category of assets is awaiting separate legislation by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) which will amend the powers of the Irish Patents Office to allow it to introduce and implement a new IP certification process. This legislation is not expected before the new year at least.
The Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, has said that this new category of qualifying IP is “to assist small and micro companies who may not patent IP due to cost or other factors.”
In anticipation of the introduction of this new patent legislation, Minister Noonan has speculated whether there was a need for a broader review of the patent system in Ireland, specifically around the examination of patents. The Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton, cautioned that reintroducing a substantive search and examination function in the Patents Office would be "highly resource intensive and hence extremely costly" (the Irish Patents Office patent search and examination function is currently outsourced to the UK Patents Office). By way of example, he said that the UK Patents Office currently employs 400 people, 300 of which are designated to the examination of patents.
Given the concerns voiced by Minister Bruton, the practical implementation of the KDB and, in particular, the SME qualifying mechanism for “intellectual property for small companies” will be interesting concepts to follow in the coming months.