Sweden IP Development

Sweden participated in the EPC and PCT co-operations from their inception in the 1970s. The PRV was appointed International Search Authority and International Preliminary Examination Authority under the PCT from its entry into force in 1978. It has recently developed this role by concluding PCT Patent Prosecution Highway (PCT-PPH) agreements with the Japan Patent Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Applications benefiting from the PCT-PPH programme are fast-tracked ahead of their normal examination date.
 
Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC)
The maximal term of patent protection in Sweden is twenty years. Under European Union law, the term of patents for medicinal products and plant protection products can be extended by up to five years pursuant to Regulation (EC) No. 469/2009 concerning the creation of a supplementary protection certificate for medicinal products and Regulation (EC) No. 1610/96 concerning the creation of a supplementary protection certificate for plant protection products. A Supplementary Protection Certificate covers the active compound or compounds which are protected by the patent and which are authorized for sale in the market by the Medical Products Agency or the European Commission, and the Swedish Chemicals Agency. The SPC's term of protection begins when the validity of the patent has expired and in no case exceeds five years.
 
An SPC for a medicinal product can, in turn, be extended by six months if the patent owner has tested the medicinal product's suitability for children and the product is authorized for sale in all EU member states. This follows according to Regulation (EC) No. 1901/2006 on medicinal products for paediatric use.
 
Trademarks
 
The first Swedish Trademark Law came into effect on January 1, 1961. The Trademark Act of 1961 was replaced by the amended Trademark Act in 1993. The current Trademark Law was revised in 1995 in the existing legal basis. The acquisition of Swedish trademark rights is based on the principle of prior registration, taking into account the principle of prior use, accepting applications for registration of commodity, service and collective marks, using the classification provisions of the Nice Agreement on the International Classification of Goods and Services.
 
Trademark review After receiving the trademark registration application, the official will first conduct a formal examination of the trademark application and accept the notification of the trademark application through the formal examination. After the formal review, the saliency of the mark and the similarity with the prior registration or application for the mark will be reviewed. During the review period, there will be an official modification notice or a rejection notice. The applicant must reply within the prescribed time limit, otherwise the trademark application will be deemed abandoned. After all the reviews have been successfully passed, the official will register the application and publish the trademark information in the trademark bulletin. Any third party may challenge the trademark application within the three-month announcement period. If a third-party objection is filed, the applicant will reply to this; if the objection is not answered or the reason for the objection is established, the trademark will be revoked. The continuous use of a registered trademark for 5 years may result in the revocation of the trademark.
 
Changes to the European Trademark System A new regulation on the European Trademark (EUTMR) entered into force on 23 March 2016. One noteworthy change is the change of name from CTM to EU Trademark which will reflect the geographical extent of the jurisdiction covered better.
 
At the same time OHIM has changed name to EUIPO (EU Intellectual Property Office).
 
The EU trademark continues to be a multi-class system. However, where the previous basic application fee covered up to three classes, the new basic fee only covers one class with a separate fee for each additional class. This new structure on fees will especially effect renewal fees, as the changes reflect a significant reduction compared to today.
 
Finally, the new regulation reflects the changes in practice that followed the Court of Justice of the European Union's decision in case C-307/10, "IP Translator" . Thus, a class heading no longer covers all goods or services in a class, but only what can naturally be understood to be covered by the actual wording. Each term in a list of goods and services must be clear and precise in order to be accepted.
 
The above points are some of the most important and practical changes. There are many more changes and detailed official information to come regarding the changes.
 
Trademark protection in Sweden
 
To register a trademark in Sweden, an application can be filed as an international application designating Sweden, a European Union trademark or a national Swedish application.
 
Protection for unregistered trademarks is available in Sweden on condition that the mark is established on the Swedish market. Establishment is achieved if the mark is sufficiently well recognized by the relevant consumers of the mark for the goods and/or services to which it applies. An unregistered trademark enjoys the same protection as a registered trademark. However, due to the high level of proof of use required when invoking such rights and the uncertainty that is linked with this, it is advisable to register trademarks.
 
In order to enjoy registered protection through a national Swedish application, a trademark should consist of any sign that can be represented graphically, such as words, logotypes, letters, numerals, or the shape of goods or packages. Every application is examined by the Swedish Patent and Registration Office, the PRV, on both absolute and relative grounds for refusal ex officio. The absolute grounds for refusal relate to the trademark itself, and include objections such as lack of distinctiveness or a risk that the mark is likely to deceive the public or cause offence. In addition to absolute grounds for refusal, objections may also be raised on relative grounds, relating to the rights of third parties. The most important relative grounds for refusal are when marks are confusingly similar to a name or trade name that is being used in the course of trade, a previously registered national trademark, European Union trademark or international trademark valid in Sweden, or a mark that is applied for in bad faith.
 
When necessary, the PRV issues an office action in the application, providing the applicant with at least one opportunity to overcome the obstacle. Once approved by the PRV, the application will be registered and a non-extendable opposition period of three months then begins on the date of publication of the registered mark.
 
Trademarks must be renewed every ten years.
 
Two new courts, the Patent and Market Court and the Patent and Market Supreme Court, were established on 1 September 2016. The purpose of the new courts is to provide a more efficient legislative framework by consolidating the competence for the processing of several IP-related issues such as appeals from the PRV decision as well as infringement, declaratory and revocation actions. This new system aims to meet the industry’s long standing demands of facilitated, faster and more cost-efficient processes.
 
Designs
 
A product's appearance can be protected in Sweden by design protection.
 
Registrations in Sweden can be made by filing an international application through the Hague System designating the European Community, by filing an application for a Registered Community Design or by filing a national Swedish application.
 
Protection for unregistered designs is available in Sweden through the Unregistered Community Design. The Unregistered Community Design lasts for three years from the date on which the design is first made available to the public within the European Community. However, the Unregistered Community Design can only be enforced against identical copying and not against independently created designs. A registered right, on the other hand, can be enforced against anyone using the registered design.
 
A Registered Community Design is an exclusive right protecting the appearance of a product or part of it, resulting from the features; in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or material(s). The requirements are novelty, individual character and that the design is visible in normal use. A Registered Community Design initially has a life of five years from the date of filing and can be renewed for subsequent periods of five years up to a maximum of 25 years.
 
The Swedish national design registration is governed by the Design Act (1970:485) and allows protection for the appearance of a product or part of a product resulting from the product’s detail or ornaments, especially lines, contours, colours, shapes, textures or materials. The requirements are novelty and individual character. A component of a product can be protected if it is visible during normal use of the product.
 
When approved by the PRV, the design application will be registered and an opposition period of two months begins on the date of publication of the mark.
 
The registration of a Swedish national design initially has a life of five years from the date of filing and can be renewed for subsequent periods of five years up to a maximum of 25 years.
 
Copyright
 
Copyright is the right that writers, composers, artists and other creators enjoy for their literary or artistic creations. It is regulated by the Copyright Act (1960:729) and provides automatic protection arising on creation of the work and normally lasting for 70 years after the death of the creator. Copyright and associated rights consist of a moral right, such as the right to be named as the creator, and an economic right that gives the creator control over the production of copies and the right to make the creation public. The moral right is non-transmissible (inalienable), but the economic right can be assigned by the owner. It is not possible to register copyright in Sweden. However, if copyright piracy may be anticipated, so that future copyright litigation cannot be excluded, it is advisable to preserve evidence proving the date of conception of the original work. A Swedish IP agent can indicate various cost-effective and legally persuasive ways to achieve this.
 
Authors: Love Ko?i, European Patent Attorney; Emelie Fyhrqvist, Associate; Linnéa Rahm, Associate




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