Northern (de)lights: the Nordic IPR Forum

Pining for the fjords?
The epicentre of intellectual property in Europe is reckoned by many to be somewhere between Brussels (where policy is made), Luxembourg (where the Court of Justice interprets IP laws and achieves considerable harmonisation by stealth) and Munich (seat of the European and German Patent Offices, plus GRUR and the ever-brimming brains who inhabit the think-tank of the Max Planck Institute).  There are however plenty of outliers that exert their own gravitational pull too. Out on the west, Alicante hosts the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market, which administers Community trade marks and designs, while London, Paris and Milan are generally hives of IP activity, speculation and intrigue. But, to the far-flung distant, misty North of the Old Continent there lurks one further region which quietly and effectively turns creation into cash, innovation into investment, while attracting far less attention than it deserves: Scandinavia.

This Kat was reminded of things Nordic earlier this week, when he read the EFTA Court's Report for the Hearing in Case E-16/14 Pharmaq AS v Intervet International BV, carefully prepared by Judge-Rapporteur Páll Hreinsson. EFTA -- the European Free Trade Association -- now comprises just three countries, Iceland, Norway and Liechstenstein, but in its heyday, back in the 1960s, it was a surprisingly influential and Scandinavian-driven counterweight to the then European Community, enjoying the membership of up to 10 states and achieving the exalted status of being commemorated by a range of postage stamps.  Even now, while dwarfed by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) with which it seeks to align its rulings, the EFTA Court's decisions on IP matters are a model of clarity and this Kat much appreciates them.

Getting to land-locked Luxembourg
posed problems for Nordic litigants ...
The Nordic influence on European intellectual property goes further. Whatever you think of the sui generis database right under the Database Directive 96/9, now implemented throughout the EU and the subject of some challenging rulings relating to football fixture lists and other valuable-if-copied data, you have to concede that its conceptual origins lie in the original Nordic Catalogue Rule. Scandinavian litigation in Europe has also produced some conceptual novelties, most recently the notion, currently rejected by the General Court but likely to be aired in the CJEU soon, that the courts should be cognisant of consumers having a "visual directory" in their brain of the appearance of words [see recent Katnote on Volvo v Lovol, here]. Intrepid litigators, the modern successors of the Vikings have blazed a trail through Europe's courts over the past thirty years, as the rise and fall of the LEGO brick trade mark attests [for the final chapter in this saga, see the Katnote here].

For the authentic taste of IP practice and strategy in Scandinavia today, you may want to consider the Nordic IPR Forum.  Run by Legal IQ, this event takes place on 25 to 26 March 2015 in the Brewery Conference Centre, Stockholm, preceded by a pre-conference workshop on 24 March. The range of speakers is impressively Nordic and well balanced, as one might expect, between corporate and private practitioners, public sector experts and service providers. One notable participant is IP Troll Tracker blogger Stephanie Kennedy ("Tracking Trolls since 2001") [Merpel thinks that troll tracking is a most appropriate issue for a Nordic IP event, bearing in mind where trolls originate]. The programme is flexible, giving participants a chance to build their own agenda from the 35 sessions on offer.  Assuming that the Brewery is a place where beer and similar refreshments may be found, the networking should be fun.  And, in case, you were wondering, it's all in taking place in English ...

 IPKat blog readers are entitled to enjoy a 10% reduction on all current registration packages, so long as they manage to quote the VIP Katcode 'IPKAT10'.

You can check out the conference programme and registration details here

If you are really into this topic, here's a Nordic Special Whitepaper for you.
Northern (de)lights: the Nordic IPR Forum Northern (de)lights: the Nordic IPR Forum Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, February 05, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. Just for sticklers - EFTA comprises four countries (not three). The post omits Switzerland, which hosts the EFTA Secretariat in Geneva , and continues to command an influence in international IP matters way beyond what its size and population would suggest.

  2. Quite right, Anon @9:35. Switzerland decided not to opt for the European Economic Area, but remains part of EFTA.


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