Protect yourself against infringement
Infringement may be due to ignorance. An effective way to protect yourself against infringement is to label your product.
Labelling indicates that you have exclusive rights
In Sweden there is no requirement for labelling. If you have a registered trademark, you can put the symbol ® after the trademark to inform others that you have the exclusive right.
If you have a copyright, you can label your work with the label ©. The symbol stands for copyright.
If you are the holder of a patent or design protection, you can label your product with the patent or design number.
A label can also serve as evidence in a legal process if the infringer claims that they were no aware of your exclusive right.
The rules for labelling in marketing differ from country to country and it is important to find out what applies in the country where you sell your merchandise or services.
Apply to the Swedish Customs for intervention
If you have a patent, right to a trademark, a design or copyright, you can apply to the Swedish Customs for an intervention. This means that the Swedish Customs can act and stop merchandise coming from countries outside the EU and that are suspected of being counterfeit. You can choose whether your application should apply within Sweden or the whole EU. It may also be limited to some EU countries.
The Swedish Customs can also, on its own initiative, intervene against suspicious merchandise. They can also stop mail and packages that they suspect contain pirated copies. When the Swedish Customs has stopped a suspect, they will contact you and you will assess whether there has been an infringement or not. In this case, you will submit a written justification for why you believe that the item has been counterfeited. After that, the Swedish Customs will decide whether it will make an intervention.
A person who is the victim of infringement may initiate court proceedings against the importer. Another possibility is that the importer agrees to the destruction of the merchandise and pays damages to the person who has exclusive rights.
The Swedish Customs has more information on how they can help you prevent infringement.
Monitor your competitors
It is always good to monitor your competitors and keep an eye on their applications for registration of a trademark, patent or design, so that they do not infringe on your rights.
You then you have the opportunity to object against a patent, trademark or design that you feel should not be granted.
PRV has several databases where you can search for registered rights.
Several actors in the market offer services, where you get professional help with monitoring, industry and competitor analysis. PRV also has consulting services that you order against payment.
If someone infringes on your right
If you find that there is an infringement of your exclusive right, you can negotiate a settlement with the counterparty or initiate legal proceedings. Committing infringement can be a crime and lead to damages or a penalty.
Send a letter
Contact the person who has committed the infringement and inform them that you have the exclusive right. Send a letter in which you objectively describe what rights you have, for example with trademark number and patent number. State why you think that the person is infringing. Should the infringement still continue, you can use the letter in the future to show that the person who has committed the infringement knew about it but still continued to use your exclusive rights.
You can draw up a license agreement with the infringer. This means that you give a person or company permission to use your right, in return for you receiving a license fee for them using it. The license fee can be a fixed recurring amount or a lump sum. It may be a good idea to use legal assistance so that everything that is necessary is included in the license agreement.
Disputes and penalties
If someone intentionally infringes on an intangible property right, it can result in a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of two years.
However it is more common that one imposes a prohibition under penalty of a fine. This is a ban against continuing with the infringement. If the ban is violated, the person who does so must pay a fixed penalty fee.
The rules on prohibition under penalty of a fine are similar, whether it involves a tradename, patent, design or a copyright.
If you sue someone for infringement, you may run the risk that your counterparty may claim that your right is invalid. Therefore, it is important that you are sure of your case before you sue someone for infringement.
Requesting the termination of an intellectual property right
If a person or company has a right that you believe infringes on yours, it is possible to request that this right be annulled and revoked by the Patent and Market Court (PMD) or by the Swedish Intellectual Property Office (PRV). Where you should turn depends on whether it is a patent, design or trademark. Copyrights cannot be revoked.
In order for a right to be revoked, it must be done in accordance with the legal text, where the various reasons for invalidity are described.
Anyone who infringes with intent or negligence shall pay damages. The damages are divided into two parts:
- Fair compensation for exploitation
- Additional damage caused by the infringement