The following are a selection of recent relevant developments in intellectual property and data protection.

IPXI – Centre for Managing and Trading in Intellectual Property

As part of its ‘Action Plan for Jobs 2012’, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation commissioned a feasibility study regarding what structures and policies could be developed to make Ireland a world centre for managing and trading in intellectual property. This study was finalised in January 2013. In response to a question regarding the recent launch of IPXI, a financial exchange based in Chicago that facilitates the licensing and trading of intellectual property rights, the Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation stated on 10 October that the Government is continuing to consider this study, following which it will develop proposals for next steps to be taken in this regard. If this initiative progresses, it will be interesting to see whether the model implemented by IPXI may be used as a template for an intellectual property exchange to be based in Ireland.

Judicial Review of refusal by the Data Protection Commissioner to Investigate Complaint

The High Court recently granted leave for judicial review of a refusal by the Data Protection Commissioner to investigate a complaint that was made by an individual in June 2013 regarding the transfer of personal data to the United States by Facebook Ireland. The Commissioner is obliged to investigate complaints regarding breaches of the Data Protection Acts, unless he is of the opinion that they are frivolous or vexatious. In this instance, the Commissioner refused to investigate the complaint on the basis that the transfer of personal data to the United States was compliant with the Data Protection Acts, since the transferee, Facebook Inc, self certifies compliance with the Safe Harbor principles. The complainant claims that in light of the PRISM system, the Safe Harbor regime does not, in fact, provide for an ‘adequate level of protection’ for personal data that is held in the United States and that the Commissioner should not, therefore, have declined to investigate his complaint. It remains to be seen whether the Irish High Court will order the Commissioner to investigate this complaint and publish a formal decision in respect of it, notwithstanding the Commissioner’s view that no breach has occurred.

IPR Intensive Industries Contribute 49% of Ireland’s GDP

According to a recently published study that was undertaken by OHIM (the EU agency that administers Community trade marks and designs) and the European Patent Office, intellectual property right intensive industries generate 23% of employment and 49% of GDP in Ireland. The share of GDP that is generated by IPR intensive industries in Ireland is higher than in any other EU Member State (the average across the EU is 39% of GDP). Ireland compares less favourably, however, regarding the share of employment that is generated by IPR intensive industries, as Ireland is below the EU average of 23%. The study highlights the importance of intellectual property to the Irish economy and, perhaps, also reflects the challenges involved in relying on IPR intensive industries as generators of employment in Ireland.