Immaterial rights and patents

Last changed: 04 April 2022

The Act on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works gives the creator of a work the right to decide how that work may be used. For innovations that constitute a technical solution it is possible to apply for a patent, i.e. statutory exclusive rights.

What works can be copyright-protected?

All artistic or literary works that are are original, individual and independent enough to meet the so-called threshold of originality.

This means that only creations that are sufficiently original can be protected. If something could have been created by two or more individuals independently of each other, the creation is not considered to be sufficiently original.

The creator's right to decide how their work is used and disseminated arises automatically the moment the work is created.

Can an idea be copyrighted?

The facts or ideas that make up the work are not protected, only the creator's personal way of expressing these ideas. As an example, take a business model. The model itself is not protected, but the record where someone has described this model and maybe added an organisation chart or something similar, is a protected work. The same way, you may use facts you find in an encyclopaedia or database, but you may not copy the entire encyclopaedia or database.

For how long does copyright apply?

A work is protected up to and including 70 years after the year of death of its creator.

What rights does the creator of a copyrighted work have?

There are two types or rights: moral rights and economic rights.

Can moral and economic rights be transferred?

Moral rights can not be transferred or licensed, but the creator can enter into an agreement to waive them. Economic rights may be transferred or licensed to someone else.

What if there is more than one creator involved?

If several creators are jointly responsible for a work in such a way that their individual contributions cannot be distinguished, they have joint rights.

A work can also be created by compiling different works or parts of different works. Whoever creates such a compilation owns the right to the compilation as such, but this right cannot in any way limit the rights the original creators have in their respective parts of the compilation.

Is copying for private use allowed?

Individuals may copy copyrighted material for private use without the creator's permission. Such copies may not be used for any other purpose than private use. In some cases, this right will extend to copying in order to perform a work task. 

Only smaller works or limited parts of works may be copied for private use.

The right to make copies for private use assumes that the works have been made public in accordance with the applicable legislation.

If a work has been 'pirate copied', making copies for private use is not allowed.

There are also some exceptions from the right to make a single copy for private use, including e.g. buildings, computer software and cinematographic works.

Is my copyright valid internationally?

As Sweden is a party to both the Berne and Paris conventions, copyright also applies internationally.

The convention states that all works except photographic and cinematographic shall be copyrighted for at least 50 years after the creator's death, but the parties to the convention are free to provide longer terms.

What is a patent?

For an innovation that is a product or a process and constitutes a solution to a technical problem, it is possible to apply for a patent, i.e. statutory exclusive rights. For a patent application to be approved, the innovation must be a novelty and not previously known. This means that confidentiality is important if there are plans to apply for a patent.  

Does my patent apply internationally?

No. Despite the fact that there is an international patent convention (the Paris convention), a patent does not automatically apply in other countries that are parties to the convention. Instead, the convention implies that all countries should have similar rules for granting patents. However, a patent granted in Sweden may be approved by the patent body in another country. The fact that a Swedish patent has been granted does not mean that the innovation is not considered a novelty.  

What does the 'teacher exception" imply?

The Act on the Right to Employee’s Inventions (1949:345) states that teachers at universities and university colleges own the right to their own inventions (in contrast to what is generally the case on the labour market). However, this act only applies to patentable innovations. For most other works, the Copyright Act applies.

Test your knowledge

  1. What works can be copyright-protected?
  2. Can an idea be copyright-protected?
  3. For how long does copyright apply?
  4. What rights does the creator of a copyrighted work have?
  5. Can moral and economic rights be transferred?
  6. What if more than one creator are involved?
  7. Is copying for private use allowed?
  8. Is my copyright valid internationally?
  9. What is a patent?
  10. Does my patent apply internationally?
  11. What does the 'teacher exception' imply?