by David Phelan August-09-2021 in Media Law, Commercial & Business, Corporate, Intellectual Property

David Phelan, Head of Commercial and Business, contributed to this piece by Lorraine Courtney for The Business Post Intellectual Property Report, 8 August 2021.

What kinds of assets are covered under ‘intellectual property’?

The phrase “intellectual property” captures a broad set of intangible assets, which are regarded as "creations of the mind". 

Often, intellectual property is a very financially and/or strategically valuable part of a business.

Intellectual property assets include trademarks used by a business (which can be registered or unregistered), copyright in the design of business logos and in creative output from the business (such as in music, books, newspaper articles, and so on), designs, patents, inventions, trade secrets, and so on.  Every company and business will have a wide range of intellectual property assets which it needs to consider protecting.

What EU protections exist for IP that businesses should be aware of?

A wide range of protections are available at EU level.  It is important that any business avail of these protections, so as to preserve the value of their IP. 

Registration of a European patent provides protection for a specific period, usually 20 years, and registration of an EU trademark provides protection for 10 years (which can be renewed). Designs can also be registered.

For other forms of IP, such as copyright and trade secrets, there are not quite the same systems to register the ownership interest, but EU law still does afford considerable protection for those IP rights.  In the case of copyright, it is important that you can prove that you are the original creator or author of the creative work, and that you assert your copyright in the work (for example by attaching a copyright notice to your work). 

What Irish laws protect IP? Are they sufficiently robust?

There is a lot of Irish law in place to provide protection for intellectual property assets. Arising from that, there is the ability to register patents, trademarks and designs with the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland. 

There is also extensive Irish law in place to protect copyright, stemming from key Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000.  Much of the Irish law in the area of copyright is prompted by implementation of European Directives and policies. New pieces of copyright law are regularly introduced - such as the European Copyright Directive on the Digital Single Market, which is in the process of being implemented here. 

What tax advantages come with IP here?

Alongside the general low rate of corporation tax here, there is a wide range of tax advantages and incentives for businesses involved in the creation, exploitation of, or investment in, IP. 

Available reliefs include (amongst others):

  • Research and Development credits, including a credit for qualifying R&D expenditure on qualifying R&D activities, and a separate credit for expenditure incurred on the construction or refurbishment of a qualifying R&D building.
  • The Knowledge Development Box, which provides an effective 6.25% corporation tax rate on profits from qualifying assets (which includes patented inventions and copyrighted software), provided some or all of the related Research and Development is undertaken by the Irish company. 
  • Capital allowances for qualifying capital expenditure on the provision or acquisition of certain IP assets.
  • Tax credit in Ireland can be available for foreign taxes borne by an Irish resident company (or an Irish branch of an EEA resident company). 
  • It is important to get expert tax advice on the specific detail of any of these tax advantages.

If you have any queries regarding intellectual property law or protecting IP assets like trademarks, designs, copyright and trade secrets, please contact David Phelan or any member of our Intellectual Property team. 

Back to Full News