Understanding IP Jurisdiction

The intellectual property underpinned by an Irish patent or trademark extend only in Ireland and have no effect in a foreign country.  A person or company wishing to protect their Intellectual property in other countries must apply for a patent, trade mark or design in each of the other countries or a regional patent office such as the European patent office or the European Union Intellectual Property Office.  Almost every country has its own patent, trade mark and design law, and a person or company requiring to protect their intellectual property (IP) in a particular country must make an application for patent /trade mark or design in that country, in accordance with the requirements of that country.  Similarly, local laws can apply to patents, trademark, industrial designs copyright, and other forms of intellectual property in each jurisdiction.

Though IP is  international in scope, it is very territorial in nature.  The digitalisation and globalisation of trade and commerce  which permits inventions, designs, brands or copyright works to easily cross  physical and cyberspace borders is giving rise to issues of jurisdiction and applicable law in cases where the intellectual property rights (IPR) protection is not limited to a particular territory.

Nonetheless, when it comes to enforcing IPRs vis-à-vis alleged infringers or exploiting the economic value of IPRs through transferring or licensing IPRs to third parties, the territorial nature of IP rights virtually means that most of the complex IP disputes have to be adjudicated before the courts of every state for which protection is sought.

There are a number of international and regional intellectual property offices  such as the World Intellectual Property Office ( WIPO), the European Patent Office (EPO) and the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) where a certain level of harmonisation of laws practices and procedures set out in conventions, treaties and EU Directives/Regulations allow for applications and registrations to be made on an international and regional basis.

For more information on how to apply for individual patents or trademarks in a foreign country, contact the intellectual property office in that country directly. A list of contact information for most intellectual property offices worldwide can be found at the World Intellectual Property Office

International patent protection.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) streamlines the process of filing patents in multiple countries. By filing one patent application with the European Patent Office, Irish applicants can concurrently seek protection in up to 152 countries all over the world.  Information about filing an international patent application under the PCT, is available here and on the WIPO websitePCTFAQS

International trade mark protection.

The Madrid Protocol also makes it easier to file for trademark registration in multiple countries. Having filed a trademark application with the Irish patent and trade mark office, an applicant can concurrently seek protection in up to 100 countries. Information about filing an international trademark registration application under the Madrid Protocol is available hereand on the WIPO websiteWIPO Madrid Protocol Guide

International Design protection

The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs provides a practical business solution for registering up to 100 designs in over 66 territories through filing one single international application. Information on the Hague system is available hereand on the WIPO websiteWIPO publication The Hague System

International copyright protection

There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect a copyrighted work throughout. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends on the national laws of that country. Most countries do not require copyright registration in order to enjoy copyright protection and many (though not all) offer copyright protection to foreign works under conditions laid out in a number of international treaties and conventions. International Agreements on Copyright