Answer ... Innovation in the fintech space may be protected under different Norwegian laws relating to the protection of IP rights, as well as laws that prevent the misuse of confidential information (trade secrets). Norway is also a party to several IP treaties. Most of the Norwegian legislation relating to the protection of IP rights is based on and/or harmonised with EU law through the Agreement on the European Economic Area.
Patents: Patents are protected under the Patents Act of 15 December 1967. Patents rights are granted by the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO). To obtain patent protection, the invention must meet the criteria of novelty, inventive step and industrial application. Patents are valid for 20 years from the filing date. Patents filed with the European Patent Office (EPO) may also be granted effect in Norway through a validation process, as Norway is a member of the EPO. Norway is also party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which allows for a simplified application process in several countries.
Copyright: Copyright is protected under the Copyright Act of 15 June 2018. Original literary and artistic works may obtain copyright protection. There is no registration of copyright in Norway and protection is achieved upon creation of the work. Source codes and object codes of software may thus obtain protection through copyright.
Trademarks: Trademarks are protected under the Trademarks Act of 26 March 2010. Trademark protection is granted either by use or by registration. Trademarks are registered with NIPO and can be obtained for words, slogans, names, logos, figures and images, letters, numbers, packaging, sounds, movements and combinations thereof. Trademarks must be distinctive and be suitable to distinguish the goods and services of one entity from those of others. European trademarks do not cover Norway; however, the holder of a European trademark may apply for a Norwegian trademark with priority from its European trademark. A trademark is valid for 10 years and may be renewed for further 10-year periods thereafter.
Designs: Designs, such as the design of a website, are protected under the Design Act of 14 March 2003. A design right is granted by NIPO and is valid for five years; it may be renewed for further five-year periods thereafter, up to a maximum of 25 years.
Trade secrets and know-how: Section 28 of the Marketing Control Act of 9 January 2009 provides that: “A person who has obtained knowledge or possession of a trade secret in connection with an employment or business relationship or a position of trust shall not exploit the secret unlawfully in the course of trade.” In determining whether information qualifies as a trade secret, three criteria will be considered:
- whether the information is deemed secret information;
- whether the information has a commercial value; and
- whether reasonable steps must have been taken to keep the information secret.
Norway is in the process of passing legislation that will implement the EU Trade Secret Directive. Under this legislation, trade secrets will be afforded broader protection which is more akin to traditional IP rights such as patents, trademarks and copyright.