Registration and use

Ownership of marks

Who may apply for registration?

Individuals or legal entities can register Swedish trademarks.

Scope of trademark

What may and may not be protected and registered as a trademark?

A trademark can be any sign - including words, personal names, devices, letters, numerals, colours, sounds or the shape of goods or its packaging - with distinctive character and that can be represented in the Trademark Register. A mark can be represented in any appropriate form using generally available technology, as long as the representation is clear, precise, self-contained, easily accessible, intelligible, durable and objective. It is possible to register collective or certification marks.

Unregistered trademarks

Can trademark rights be established without registration?

Yes. An unregistered trademark is protected if it is known by a significant part of the relevant public in Sweden (generally around 30 per cent) as a sign for the goods or services that are being offered thereunder. To establish this, information concerning the time during which the mark has been used in trade, details of revenue and number of products or services sold under the mark, marketing investments and market surveys are typically required.

Famous foreign trademarks

Is a famous foreign trademark afforded protection even if not used domestically? If so, must the foreign trademark be famous domestically? What proof is required? What protection is provided?

Under the Trademarks Act, a trademark may not be registered if it can be confused with a trademark that is used in Sweden or abroad and the applicant was in bad faith when filing the application to register the trademark. Proof of actual use and bad faith of the applicant is required. An exclusive right may be also acquired by famous foreign trademarks without registration by means of establishment on the market. An unregistered mark is protected if it is known by a significant part of the relevant public in Sweden (generally around 30 per cent) as a sign for the goods or services that are being offered thereunder.

The benefits of registration

What are the benefits of registration?

In the event of court proceedings, the holder of a trademark acquired by means of establishment on the market has the burden of proof for showing that it is known by a significant part of the relevant public in Sweden (generally around 30 per cent) as a sign for the goods or services that are being offered thereunder. This requirement does not apply to a holder of a registered trademark.

Further, only holders of registered trademarks are entitled to submit applications requesting the customs authorities to take action with respect to goods suspected of infringing the IP right.

Filing procedure and documentation

What documentation is needed to file a trademark application? What rules govern the representation of the mark in the application? Is electronic filing available? Are trademark searches available or required before filing? If so, what procedures and fees apply?

No documentation aside from the complete application itself is needed and electronic filing is available.

There are no specific rules that govern the representation of the mark in the application except that the representation, in whatever form, must be clear. In addition to graphical representation, the Patent and Registration Office accepts representations in the form of sound files, moving pictures and multimedia files.

It is not required but the Patent and Registration Office offers pre-file searches for 2,400 Swedish kronor or by quotation if there is a need to examine more than 5,000 search results. Express delivery within 48 hours is available for an additional fee of 4,000 Swedish kronor. The search covers:

  • national applications and registrations in the Swedish Trademark Database;
  • international trademark applications relating to and designating Sweden;
  • EU trademarks;
  • the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise register;
  • the name and surname registry;
  • religious communities and registered newspaper titles and municipal coats of arms;
  • official designations; and
  • heraldic arms.

Further, the search includes a broad and common internet check to see if there are any unregistered rights or other circumstances that may be relevant and an assessment of whether the mark is distinctive or if it contains characteristics that can hinder the mark from being registered.

Registration time frame and cost

How long does it typically take, and how much does it typically cost, to obtain a trademark registration? When does registration formally come into effect? What circumstances would increase the estimated time and cost of filing a trademark application and receiving a registration?

The usual time frame from filing to registration is approximately three to six months.

Electronic filing costs 2,000 Swedish kronor for the first class and 1,000 Swedish kronor for each additional class. An additional fee of 700 Swedish kronor is payable if the electronically filed application includes goods or services that have not been chosen from the list of pre-validated terms offered by the Patent and Registration Office. Non-electronic applications cost 2,700 Swedish kronor for the first class and 1,000 Swedish kronor for each additional class.

Circumstances that would typically increase the estimated time and cost of filing a trademark application and receiving a registration is if:

  • the Patent and Registration Office finds that the application does not meet all requirements (which includes an examination of both formal requirements and whether there are any absolute or relative grounds for refusal); or
  • a third party opposes the registration, wholly or partly, within three months from the date of publication of the trademark registration in the Trademark Journal.

If the Patent and Registration Office finds that the application meets all of the requirements, the trademark will be registered and a notice of the registration will be published in the Trademark Journal. If no oppositions are filed, the trademark will become effective from the date the application was filed.

Assuming that no oppositions are filed the average cost for registering a trademark in a single class is around 10,000 to 15,000 Swedish kronor.

Classification system

What classification system is followed, and how does this system differ from the International Classification System as to the goods and services that can be claimed? Are multi-class applications available and what are the estimated cost savings?

The Nice Classification system is followed.

Multi-class applications are allowed. The cost of filing is 1,000 Swedish kronor for each additional class. An additional fee of 700 Swedish kronor is payable if an electronically filed application includes goods or services that have not been chosen from the list of pre-validated terms offered by the Patent and Registration Office.

Examination procedure

What procedure does the trademark office follow when determining whether to grant a registration? Are applications examined for potential conflicts with other trademarks? Are letters of consent accepted to overcome an objection based on a third-party mark? May applicants respond to rejections by the trademark office?

The Patent and Registration Office examines whether:

  • the application meets the formalities (ie, if it contains all required information); and
  • there are any absolute or relative grounds for refusal, including if the mark lacks distinctiveness or can be confused with an earlier right.

The Patent and Registration Office conducts searches in order to ascertain whether a trademark is confusingly similar to, for example, Swedish trademarks, EU trademarks, Swedish company names and distinctive surnames.

Letters of consent from third-party rights holders are generally accepted.

The Patent and Registration Office will ask the applicant to rectify the deficiencies or file a statement within a specified period if the application fails to meet the formal requirements or the Patent and Registration Office raises any objections. For example, if objections have been raised owing to a likelihood of confusion with an earlier trademark, a statement might include proof that the applicant has received consent from the holder of an earlier trademark.

Use of a trademark and registration

Does use of a trademark or service mark have to be claimed before registration is granted or issued? Does proof of use have to be submitted? Are foreign registrations granted any rights of priority? If registration is granted without use, is there a time by which use must begin either to maintain the registration or to defeat a third-party challenge on grounds of non-use?

A trademark registration may be granted without prior use.

An applicant must claim priority before the trademark is registered and indicate the time, place, applicant and application number of the priority application. The Patent and Registration Office may direct the applicant to prove its right to claim priority.

A trademark registration may be wholly or partially cancelled if the owner has not - within five years from the final decision on the registration matter or a consecutive five-year period - made genuine use of the mark in Sweden in respect of the goods or services for which it was registered and the owner has no valid reasons for non-use.

Markings

What words or symbols can be used to indicate trademark use or registration? Is marking mandatory? What are the benefits of using and the risks of not using such words or symbols?

The ™ symbol is used to show that, for example, a word or logotype is used as a mark for the company in question. The ® symbol is used to show that a trademark is registered. However, neither the ™ nor the ® symbol has any direct legal significance in Sweden. Use of the ® symbol may be a violation of the Marketing Practices Act if the trademark does not enjoy trademark protection by registration in Sweden. However, in infringement cases it may be possible to claim that the infringement has been negligent if it is clear that the trademark is registered, which have certain implications for calculation of damages.

Appealing a denied application

Is there an appeal process if the application is denied?

The Patent and Registration Office will ask the applicant to rectify the deficiencies or file a statement within a specified period if the application fails to meet the formal requirements or the Patent and Registration Office raises any objections. For example, if objections have been raised due to a likelihood of confusion with an earlier trademark, a statement might include proof that the applicant has received consent from the earlier trademark’s owner. If the applicant fails to respond in due time, the application may be rejected, which rejection will be public in the Patent and Registration Office’s files.

A rejected application can be appealed to the Patent and Market Court within two months from the decision. Appeals are sent to and examined by the Patent and Registration Office. If the office does not reconsider its decision following such an examination, it will forward the appeal to the Patent and Market Court. Patent and Market Court decisions may be appealed to the Patent and Market Court of Appeal. Leave to appeal is required. Decisions of the Patent and Market Court of Appeal may be appealed to the Supreme Court only if the Patent and Market Court of Appeal grants a right to appeal, and leave to appeal is granted by the Supreme Court.

Third-party opposition

Are applications published for opposition? May a third party oppose an application prior to registration, or seek cancellation of a trademark or service mark after registration? What are the primary bases of such challenges, and what are the procedures? May a brand owner oppose a bad-faith application for its mark in a jurisdiction in which it does not have protection? What is the typical range of costs associated with a third-party opposition or cancellation proceeding?

If the Patent and Registration Office finds that the application meets all requirements, the trademark will be registered and a notice of the registration will be published in the Trademark Journal. Once notice of the trademark registration is published in the Trademark Journal, third parties may oppose the registration wholly or partly. An opposition specifying on which grounds it is filed must be filed with the Patent and Registration Office within three months from the date of publication. The trademark owner and the opposing party can then file statements arguing their case before the Patent and Registration Office (the number of statements vary and there is no set number). Following the exchange of statements, the Patent and Registration Office decides whether to revoke the registration as a result of the opposition. The trademark owner and the opposing party may jointly request a cooling-off period. The Patent and Registration Office shall determine the length thereof, which must be at least two months. It may be extended at the parties’ request.

Any third party may oppose a registration on the grounds that the trademark:

  • lacks distinctiveness;
  • consists exclusively of a shape or another characteristic that results from the nature of the goods, is necessary to obtain a technical result or gives substantial value to the goods;
  • is contrary to law, regulations, principles of morality or public policy;
  • could deceive the public concerning the nature, quality, geographical origin or any other circumstance relating to the goods or services;
  • includes, without permission:
    • a state or international emblem or a municipal coat of arms which, under law or regulations, cannot be used as a trademark without authorisation, or something that can easily be confused with such an emblem or municipal coat of arms;
    • a mark which, under the Act on Protection for Marks in International Humanitarian Law (2014:812), cannot be used as a trademark without authorisation, or something that can be confused with such a mark;
  • contains a designation of origin, a geographical indication, a traditional term for wine or traditional speciality guaranteed, to the extent that such indication is protected according to EU legislation;
  • contains or consists of any sign which could be conceived as a geographical indication for wines or spirits and that relates to wines or spirits of a different origin; or
  • consists of, or reproduce in their essential elements, an earlier plant variety denomination for plant varieties of the same or closely related species, to the extent such plant variety is protected according to the Swedish Act on the Protection of Plant Variety Rights (1997:306) or EU legislation.

Subject to an objection by the rights holder of the trademark registration, only third parties with a legitimate interest may oppose the registration on the grounds that the trademark:

  • is identical to an earlier mark for identical goods or services;
  • is identical or similar to an earlier mark for identical or similar goods or services if a likelihood of confusion exists, including the likelihood of association between the proprietor of the trademark registration subject to the opposition and the owner of the earlier mark;
  • is identical or similar to an earlier mark known by a significant part of the relevant public, and the use without due cause would take unfair advantage of or be detrimental to the distinctive character or reputation of the earlier mark;
  • can be confused with a mark that, at the time of application, was being used by a third party in Sweden or abroad and is still in use, if the applicant was acting in bad faith at the time of the application;
  • is likely to be perceived as another party’s company name;
  • is likely to be perceived as another party’s distinctive surname, a well-known artist’s name or similar if the use would cause a disadvantage for the bearer and the name does not obviously refer to someone who is long deceased;
  • is a picture of someone who is not obviously long deceased; or
  • infringes another rights holder’s copyright, photograph or design.

Opposition decisions can be appealed to the Patent and Market Court. The Patent and Market Court decisions may be appealed to the Patent and Market Court of Appeal. Leave to appeal is required. Decisions of the Patent and Market Court of Appeal may be appealed to the Supreme Court only if the Patent and Market Court of Appeal grants a right to appeal, and leave to appeal is granted by the Supreme Court.

Typical costs for a third-party opposition procedure before the Patent and Registration Office range between 40,000 Swedish kronor and 100,000 Swedish kronor. Cancellation procedures are harder to predict costs for.

Duration and maintenance of registration

How long does a registration remain in effect and what is required to maintain a registration? Is use of the trademark required for its maintenance? If so, what proof of use is required?

The registration takes effect from the official filing date with the Patent and Registration Office and is valid for 10 years thereafter. The registration can be renewed for an unlimited number of consecutive 10-year periods. The renewal is accepted when the renewal fee is paid.

A trademark registration may be wholly or partially cancelled if the owner has not - within five years from the final decision on the registration matter or a consecutive five-year period - made genuine use of the mark in Sweden in respect of the goods or services for which it was registered and the owner has no valid reasons for non-use.

The trademark owner has the burden of proof for showing that there has been commercial use of the mark. Thus, the trademark owner must show that the trademark has been used for (eg, marketing or sale of the goods or services for which it was registered). The Patent and Registration office does not require any proof of use.

Surrender

What is the procedure for surrendering a trademark registration?

Trademark owners may choose not to renew a registration or request the Patent and Registration Office to remove, wholly or in part, a registration from the Trademark Register.

Related IP rights

Can trademarks be protected under other IP rights (eg, copyright, designs)?

There is no limitation against a trademark obtaining protection under other IP rights. A trademark can be protected under the Copyright Act (1960:729) as long as it fulfils the requirements for such protection. A trademark may also be protected under design legislation, including the Design Protection Act (1970:485), if it meets certain criteria with respect to, for example, novelty and originality.

Company names are protected under the Company Names Act (2018:1653), according to which, registered or established trade names enjoy protection against identical and confusingly similar trade names. Further, a bearer of a characteristic surname is protected under the Name Act (2016:1013) against third parties using his or her name as an indicator of trade origin if such use would be disadvantageous for the bearer of the name.

Trademarks online and domain names

What regime governs the protection of trademarks online and domain names?

There is no specific regulation for the online use of trademarks. To the extent applicable, the Trademarks Act also covers online use.

Swedish law does not specifically regulate the right to domain names. The Foundation for Internet Infrastructure is generally responsible for the registration of .se domain names. A trademark registered as a domain name by someone other than the trademark owner does not necessarily constitute a trademark infringement. Further, a trademark registration does not automatically entail a right to a domain name incorporating that mark.