There are two types of Irish patents available.

(1) Full-term patents

These patents allow the inventor/applicant protection for up to 20 years. For a full-term patent to be granted, the applicant must provide evidence of the invention's novelty. This can be done by requesting a "Search Report and Opinion" from the Office, or by submitting evidence of novelty.

Applications for full-term patents filed after 19 May 2017 will be substantively examined.  Substantive examination checks whether your invention is novel, has an inventive step and is industrially applicable. It also checks that your description and claims match and that your invention is patentable and good enough to patent. 

(2) Short-term patents

Short-term patents are designed to assist smaller inventors. These patents can also suit inventions where a shorter market life is expected, or inventions that are not technologically complex. These patents last for a maximum of ten years, and the applicant does not need to provide evidence of the invention's novelty. This effectively reduces the costs and length of time involved in getting an invention patented.

Because procedures are generally simpler, short-term patents can be examined reasonably quickly, usually within 12 months from the filing date if requirements are correct and complied with. If applications are made for both a short-term patent and a full-term patent in respect of the same invention, the short-term patent will become void when the full-term patent is granted.

With some exceptions, the provisions relating to full-term patent applications and patents also apply to short-term patent applications and short-term patents. The main exceptions are:

  1. The specification of a short-term patent application must not include more than five claims. The requirements of novelty and industrial applicability apply but instead of non-obviousness, it is sufficient that the invention be "not clearly lacking an inventive step".
  2. Short term patents are not substantively examined and neither a search report nor evidence of novelty in the form of a foreign patent specification is required in order that a short-term patent be granted.
  3. The filing fee, grant fee and renewal fees are only 50% of those for a full-term patent; and generally the procedures are simpler. This will be of particular interest to small enterprises and single inventors.
  4. Infringement proceedings can be brought in the Circuit Court (or in the High Court, as is required for full-term patents) irrespective of the amount of a claim. Before taking an action for infringement the owner of the short-term patent must either (a) request the Controller to have a search report prepared and send a copy of the report to the alleged infringer or (b) if a foreign search report or patent specification is available, furnish copies of such reports to the Controller as well as the alleged infringer. The reports referred to at (a) or (b) are published by the Controller.
  5. A person other than the owner of the short-term patent whose legitimate business interests require a novelty search and who can show grounds for suspecting that the invention lacks novelty or is clearly lacking in inventive step may also request the Controller to have a search report prepared. Such a search report is published by the Controller.