SE – Jurisdiction re Foreign Patents

Posted: March 8th, 2013

The Swedish Supreme Court Confirms Jurisdiction in Relation to Also Foreign Patents Subject to Reclamation in Swedish Bankruptcy Proceedings, by Erik Ficks

In times of economic turmoil, in combination with intellectual property having become one of companies’ most important assets, legal issues relating to intellectual property in insolvency are very topical.

In recent years, the Swedish Supreme Court has made an effort in trying to clarify this area of law. I have previously reported on two cases relating to distressed intellectual property under Swedish law on this blog, read the previous article here.

In a new case from the Supreme Court, jurisdictional matters in terms of competence of Swedish courts were considered. The case involved a creditor’s recovery claims in a bankruptcy, in which the assets requested to be recovered consisted of Swedish and foreign patents that had previously been assigned under an agreement to a foreign company located in Saint Kitts and Nevis. The foreign company objected that the claim was inadmissible due to lack of competence for Swedish courts to determine the case. The Supreme Court thus had to determine whether Swedish courts are competent to decide the case in relation to the recovery claim. Since the respondent was domiciled outside the EU, Regulation (no 1346/2000) on insolvency proceedings was not applicable when determining the jurisdictional matters. Neither were any specific Swedish procedural rules applicable.

When determining the competence of Swedish courts, the Supreme Court concluded that it was the relevant legal act (i.e. the transfer agreement) rather than the objects encompassed by the legal act that was subject to the recovery claim. Accordingly, it was the legal act that was relevant when determining the jurisdiction (and not the patents as such). The Supreme Court then concluded that Swedish Courts are competent to determine the case, even though the dispute to some extent relates to the transfer of foreign patents (i.e. assets outside of Sweden).

The Supreme Court has with this judgment through case law established a new principle under Swedish law for determining jurisdiction in these matters. This clarification is a valuable contribution in an area of increased importance.

Read the judgment (in Swedish) here.

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