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Rights and protection

Ownership

Is ownership of a trademark in your jurisdiction determined on a first-to-file or first-to-use basis?

Norway is a first-to-file trademark jurisdiction.

Unregistered trademarks

What legal protections are available to unregistered trademarks?

The Trademarks Act provides unregistered trademark protection through use if a significant portion of the relevant consumers perceive goods designated by the mark as originating from a particular undertaking (use-acquired rights).

An unregistered trademark may be used as the basis for opposition or cancellation proceedings provided that:

  • it was used before the filing of a third-party application; 
  • the third party was aware of:
    • the use of the similar mark at the time of filing; and
    • whether the filing was considered to have breached good business practice (ie, was made in bad faith).  

How are rights in unregistered marks established?

Rights in unregistered marks are established through extensive and exclusive use of a mark to the extent that the average consumer identifies the mark as someone’s trademark for specific goods or services. Use-acquired rights can be local or national. In the latter case, the mark may be registered in the trademark database. 

Are any special rights and protections afforded to owners of well-known and famous marks?

Owners of well-known and famous trademarks are afforded an extended scope of protection. The extended protection implies a broader scope of protection in relation to both the similarity of the goods or services and the similarity of the marks.

To what extent are foreign trademark registrations recognised in your jurisdiction?

Foreign trademark registrations are recognised to a certain extent in connection with bad-faith applications.

Further, foreign trademark applications or registrations made in Paris Convention member countries can be used as a basis for claiming priority in Norway.

Registered trademarks

What legal rights and protections are accorded to registered trademarks?

Registration of a trademark gives the owner the right to refuse third-party use of the same or similar marks in the course of trade. 

Who may register trademarks?

Any private person, organisation or legal entity can register trademarks. 

What marks are registrable (including any non-traditional marks)?

Any mark (eg, a word, device, slogan or number) that can be represented graphically and that meets the minimum requirements of distinctiveness can be registered. Non-traditional marks such as sound and smell marks are also registrable.

Further, the mark cannot infringe third-party rights, be deceptive (typically with respect to geographic origin) or be contrary to other public regulations or public morals. 

Can a mark acquire distinctiveness through use?

Yes. 

On what grounds will a mark be refused registration (ie, absolute and relative grounds)?

A mark may be refused ex officio on both absolute and relative grounds. 

Are collective and certification marks registrable? If so, under what conditions?

Collective marks are registrable. Certification marks are included under the collective mark regulations. In principle, the same registration requirements as for regular trademarks apply to such marks, and the application must be submitted with a set of provisions concerning the use of the mark.

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