To protect and stimulate creators to increase innovation and encourage entrepreneurship, Norwegian authorities are changing the law. In 2018 we received several proposals towards strengthening the rights of those who create new ideas or build their business on intellectual property.
Looking back at 2018, we see a year in which the Norwegian intellectual property (IP) legislation has been in movement. Technology is developing fast, and so must the law protecting technology.
During recent years, the Norwegian authorities have repeatedly expressed the importance of innovation in Norwegian industry. To stimulate and encourage innovation it is crucial that the legal framework protects the interests of the innovators and the industry. This – and the need to harmonise Norwegian law with European law - has led to proposals for modernisation and revision of several acts within intellectual property rights.
The common trend is that originators and innovators have had their rights strengthened, in a world where intellectual properties appear in new shapes and in new environments.
Here is a short overview over the different IP acts that have been changed, or proposed changed, in 2018.
The Copyright Act
The much discussed and disputed Copyright Act was finally implemented in July this year. The act contains several provisions which improve the protection for the originator and for the rights holder. As an example, streaming of films that obviously was uploaded illegally is now prohibited. The act also strengthens the originator's position by establishing entitlement to fair compensation when transferring the copyright to a third party. New and strict compensation provisions in case of copyright infringement have also been implemented.
The Trademark Act
The Trademark Act has been the target for several new propositions. One of these is that the requirement of graphical presentation of a registered trademark shall no longer apply. Instead, a trademark must be cited in a clear and unambiguous manner in the trademark register. This opens up for registration of non-traditional trademarks, such as sound, smell and taste marks.
If this proposed change to the act is adopted, the taste of a drink or the smell of a perfume can be registered. Sound marks may be registered as an audio file. However, with current technology there is still no solution to cite a taste or a smell mark in a clear an unambiguous manner in the trademark register.
The Customs Act
The proposed changes to the Customs Act will, if they are implemented, particularly benefit businesses holding famous trademarks and brands. The customs will have more efficient means to stop counterfeit products crossing the Norwegian boarder.
According to current legislation a trademark holder must go to court and get a favourable decision within 10 days after being notified by customs that a shipment or package is suspected of containing counterfeit products.
The new proposal opens up for trademark holders to pre-register their rights with the customs, so that the customs may detain goods suspected of trademark infringement for more than 10 days without a court order.
It is also proposed that import of fake and counterfeit products for private use shall become prohibited. This type of import is increasing, considering the development of global web shopping.
Furthermore a simplified procedure for destruction of small shipments is proposed.
New Trade Secrets Act
Towards the end of the year, in November 2018, a proposal for a new Trade Secrets Act was submitted for comment. Trade secrets are of great importance to many enterprises, not at least as an important supplement to other forms of IP.
In many instances, trade secrets may be at least as valuable as other types of IP. The new act will by and large constitute a continuation of the trade secret provisions currently found in the Marketing Act and the Criminal Code. However, in some respects, the protection of trade secrets will be expanded and it will be easier for business owners to enforce their rights.
Our IP legislation has been lagging behind, but if the mentioned changes are implemented, we have taken a step further in protecting intellectual property rights in today's technological environment. That being said, the technological development will always develop faster than the legislation. Our belief is that we will see more frequent updates of the IP legislation in the years to come.