Although the Irish government has confirmed that it intends to participate in the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court, a positive vote in a public referendum is required before Ireland can ratify the UPC Agreement and join the system. A referendum is expected in 2023 or 2024.
On the present timeline, this means that the referendum would come too late for Ireland to participate in the Unitary Patent or the Unified Patent Court at the point when the system is expected to come into force, which is currently expected towards the end of this year or the beginning of 2023.
This means that when the UPC system starts, Ireland would not be covered by a Unitary Patent request for a granted European Patent. Therefore, if patent protection in Ireland is required, it would still be necessary to perform a national validation using the existing mechanism.
In addition to Ireland, there are another 6 countries that have signed the UPC Agreement but have still not ratified it; namely, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Unless they deposit their ratifications before the start of the UPC system, these countries will also not be covered by a Unitary Patent when the new system comes into force.