On the ever-growing market for streaming services and online access to TV broadcasts, illegal services are common and sometimes difficult to shut down due to their technical complexity and the multi-jurisdictional scope of the infringing activities. The Patent and Market Court recently held three persons liable for global retransmissions of TV broadcasts, sentencing them to prison and awarding rights holders significant compensation for damages.
A new Trade Secrets Act, which implements the EU Trade Secrets Directive, recently entered into force. Even if the strengthened position for trade secret owners is welcome, discrepancies remain between trade secrets and other IP rights. Further, any dispute on trade secrets will not be subject to the jurisdiction of Sweden's specialised IP courts – jurisdiction will remain vested in the courts of general jurisdiction and often subject to labour dispute rules.
The Supreme Court has rendered its judgment in a long-running dispute concerning private copying levies on mobile phones with an external memory device. The court found that the right to collect private copying levies extends to devices which consist of two technically independent devices, even if the independent devices are not "especially suited for the production of copies of works for private use" and would thus not be subject to private copying levies if sold individually.
The Supreme Court has confirmed that domain names are property which can be forfeited to the state, providing rights holders with another measure in their fight against online infringement. The court noted that the concept of 'property' is central for the rules on forfeiture. It concluded that a person who registers a domain name is granted an exclusive right to that domain name and the right to a domain name may be subject to dispute resolution and entitlement claims.
The Supreme Court recently clarified that copyright infringement is not a crime where the presumed penalty is imprisonment. This decision marks a change in relation to previous case law regarding the penalty for copyright infringement through illegal file sharing. The Supreme Court has now aligned the view on the severity of IP infringements. This is a welcome development, although rights holders may have benefited from a stricter view and a development in the opposite direction.
The holder of an IP right which considers that right to be infringed will often seek a preliminary injunction. If the injunction is wrongfully granted and then overturned, the plaintiff is liable to pay damages to the defendant. A recent Supreme Court case discussed several issues relevant to proceedings concerning such damages and damages in general and is likely to be a leading case for years to come.
In a recent case, the claimants brought forward other circumstances to demonstrate that a preparatory patent infringement had occurred. The Stockholm District Court was clear that it must be demonstrated that preparatory acts are undertaken with the intent to commit or promote patent infringement. The decision appears to indicate that stating in general terms that valid patent rights will be respected is sufficient to oppose claims of preparatory infringement.
The Svea Court of Appeal recently shed much-needed light on whether a right to digital use can be established through the interpretation of recording contracts from a time when such use did not even exist. The case shows how a party to a contract can be found to have consented to new terms regarding digital use through passivity and confirms that a recording artist has standing to seek an injunction on his or her own without the co-creators.
The Stockholm Patent and Market Court recently sentenced four company executives to up to 18 months in prison and ordered them to pay fines and damages amounting to several million Swedish kronor for copyright and trademark infringement through the online sale of counterfeit furniture. In light of the considerable damages, forfeiture of illegal gains and criminal liability, the story is likely to continue with an appeal.
The Supreme Court recently ruled on whether linking to live broadcasts of hockey games was communication to the public, and whether the live broadcasts met the requirements for copyright protection. The court made clear that the EU standard of copyright fully applies in Swedish law. Following this judgment, it would appear that these types of broadcast can rely only on the protection of related rights.
In the first decision of its kind from a Swedish appellate court, a Svea Court of Appeal panel recently found that car rims do not constitute spare parts and thus enjoy the protections offered by the EU Community Designs Regulation. The court's findings give the spare parts exemption a fittingly narrow and functional interpretation in line with the regulation.
The Supreme Court recently clarified the scope of jurisdiction of the Swedish courts in infringement actions involving Swedish trademarks where the infringer is domiciled outside the European Union or European Economic Area. Due to the territorial character of nationally registered trademarks, there is a legal interest for the country of registration to hear cases where a national trademark right has been invoked.
The Supreme Court has strengthened the position of copyright holders in enforcing their rights against companies trying to circumvent court-ordered injunctions. Companies are generally not responsible for the actions of third parties. However, the company can be held responsible if it fails to prove that it has taken reasonable measures to prevent the third party from violating the injunction.
The Supreme Court recently confirmed that the Swedish implementation of the EU IP Rights Enforcement Directive goes further than the directive in relation to the information on infringing goods that a party can be ordered to provide. Under Swedish law, an information order can relate not only to goods which have been established to be infringing, but also to other specimens of the goods sold before and after the infringing goods.
The Svea Court of Appeal recently clarified the method used by the courts to determine whether a trademark should be cancelled due to lack of distinctive character or degeneration. The court also provided guidelines on the importance of rights holders enforcing their rights and the value of well-conducted market surveys at the time of registering a trademark.
In certain situations the use of a third party's trademark is allowed – for example, to show that services for another business's products are offered. The Stockholm District Court recently clarified the distinction between the use of logos and word marks for such purposes, confirming that while the former create the impression of a commercial connection between two undertakings, the latter do not.
Whether a crime should be considered as punishable by imprisonment is based on the general penal value of the crime. In a recent case the Supreme Court considered whether a prison sentence is the presumed penalty in counterfeiting cases based on trademark rights. If the penal value is less than one year, it held, prison should be the last resort.
The Supreme Court recently considered Mon.Zon's use of Layher's trademark in its product catalogue. The court held that the product catalogues were directed only to prospective buyers and that the use of a photograph displaying Layher's trademark implied no connection between Layher and Mon.Zon. The court concluded that Mon.Zon had caused no damage to the trademark's indication of origin function.
Sweden has recently signed an agreement on the establishment of a Nordic-Baltic regional division of the Unified Patent Court. According to the agreement, English will be the only language of proceedings and the seat of the regional divisional will be in Stockholm. The Swedish national court structure for IP disputes is under revision.
HTC held a patent protecting the cleaning product Twister. HÅTE introduced a competing product and HTC instigated proceedings on the basis of patent infringement. The Gota Court of Appeal found that HÅTE's sales of the patented product should not be deducted from the compensation for lost profits, as HÅTE had already sold small quantities of Twister before the injunction.