Recent changes to Swedish trademark legislation provide new opportunities
Graphical representation, official filing date, registration period and proof of use are among the features amended in the new Swedish Trademark Act.
Following the drawn-out EU trademark reform, several changes to the Swedish Trademark Act (2010:1877) (here) entered into force on 1 January 2019. In order to serve the objective of fostering and creating a well-functioning internal market, EU lawmakers chose to go beyond the somewhat limited scope achieved by the previous reform and harmonize further aspects of substantive trademark law throughout the EU. The latest version of the trademark directive can be found here.
In summary, there are a few new features that are of particular interest to trademark holders (and licensees) operating in Sweden:
The requirement of graphical representation of a trademark has been dispensed with. As a result, applicants may now represent their trademarks by using generally available technology, including CAD-files (3D trademarks), audio files (soundmarks) or video files (motion or hologram trademarks). The requirements applicable to specific trademark types can be found here.
Official filing date
In order to obtain an official filing date, which is crucial for priority claims and the registration period, the applicant must have submitted a request for registration, with information identifying the applicant, a clear representation of the trademark, and a list of the goods or services.
The registration period of 10 years will commence from the date of filing (previously from the date of registration). The change will only apply to applications filed on or after 1 January 2019.
Absolute grounds for functional signs
The absolute grounds previously limited to shape marks will now extend to other functional signs, such as position-, colour- and soundmarks.
Proof of use
A request for proof of use may be submitted as a defence in opposition and invalidity proceedings in relation to an earlier trademark, provided that it has been registered for not less than five years.
In order to strengthen trademark protection and combat counterfeiting more effectively, trademark proprietors may now prevent the entry of counterfeit goods in all customs situations (e.g. in transit, warehousing, free zones or temporary storage), including in cases where such goods are not intended to be placed on the Swedish market.
A licensee may only initiate formal infringement proceedings with the proprietor’s consent. However, the holder of an exclusive licence may initiate such proceedings if the proprietor, after having been given formal notice, does not itself bring infringement proceedings within a reasonable period of time.