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Forfas calls for Irish e-Court
Tuesday, October 29 2002
by Andrew McLindon

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Advisory body Forfas has called for a specialist technology court in Ireland as part of a plan to improve the competitive advantage of the ICT sector.

According to Forfas, this e-Court would adjudicate on ICT and e-business related legal matters. It believes the court would help develop the expertise of the judiciary in these areas and provide a secure, certain and responsive legal system that would attract R&D and knowledge-based enterprises to locate here.

The idea of an e-Court is one of a series of measures recommended by Forfas in a report on how the Irish legal framework for the ICT sector can be strengthened. Other recommendations include the updating of patent, copyright and intellectual property law to protect the rights of companies that develop intellectual property, and for it to be made an offence to steal confidential information from businesses.

The report, which was released on Tuesday, also called for the Council of Europe's convention on cyber-crime to be implemented as soon as possible in order to increase confidence in e-business. Such a move would give businesses and consumers engaging in electronic transactions and communications the same legal protection and rights as they have for conventional transactions claims Forfas.

It also advised that the domestic stamp-duty regime, for the assignment or transfer of intellectual property, should be reviewed so that Ireland compares favourably with competing countries.

Forfas, which is the national policy and advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovations, said that Ireland had gained an advantage with the early introduction of e-commerce and copyright laws, but that other nations now had similar legislation in place. These new measures, remarked Forfas, would re-assert competitive advantage to Irish-based technology companies engaged in research.

"Ireland can develop as a global centre for research and e-business, if we are proactive in providing a secure and certain legal framework for e-business and ICT," argued Forfas Chief Executive Officer, Martin Cronin, adding that to attract and develop firms that invest in research and e-business, Ireland must provide an attractive legal environment.

The publication of the report was welcomed on Tuesday by the Minister for Trade and Commerce, Michael Ahern, TD, who noted it contained a "lot of food for thought".

Minister Ahern remarked that he was aware of the importance of intellectual property rights to businesses in the ICT sector and pledged to tackle and defeat those who benefit from ripping-off creators of intellectual wealth.

However, this could only occur with international co-operation, said the Minister, and he would attempt to advance discussions on the enforcement of intellectual property rights within organisations such as the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the European Commission. The latter is due to shortly propose a directive on the issue.

The Forfas report, Legislating for Competitive Advantage in e-Business and Information & Communications Technologies, was written by Denis Kelleher, a barrister and co-author of Information Technology Law in Ireland.



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