Confidentiality and professional secrecy
All employees at PRV have signed a Confidentiality agreement in order to secure that strict confidentiality is maintained at all times.
The agreement is to certify that they have been informed of what applies in terms of public access and confidentiality, and that they are aware of their obligation to keep certain information secret. All new employees also take an introduction course which covers professional secrecy, public access and confidentiality.
Provisions for what must be kept secret are given in the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (2009:400).
As a customer at PRV, it is particularly important for you that information is kept secret in the following cases:
- Mandatory, complete confidentiality for patent applications for 18 months from the filing date or priority date (if priority is requested)
- Confidentiality for information about designs in applications regarding design protection for 6 months from the filing date or priority date (if priority is requested), if the applicant has requested it when filing the application
- Confidentiality applies to information about business and operational situations in applications regarding trademark protection, if one party in the case has requested it and it can be assumed that the person the information concerns would suffer significant harm if the information was given out
- Absolute confidentiality for search services regarding novelty searches and similar examinations for a maximum of 50 years.
In general, the principle of public access applies which means that everyone has the right to access public documents from authorities if they are not under secrecy.
Applications for patents at PRV
A patent application is secret at PRV for 18 months from the filing date or from the priority date, if priority has been requested. The applicant may request that the application becomes accessible earlier. After that, the patent application becomes accessible to anyone. If a patent application is dismissed or rejected before the 18-month period has expired, the confidentiality remains.
Confidentiality is only revoked if the applicant requests that the patent application be reinstated, if the decision regarding dismissal or rejection is appealed or if the applicant requests a particular declaration of re-establishment of rights, for example when loss of rights is caused by non-payment. At the request of the applicant or someone else, PRV can decide that information regarding company secrets in a patent application have to be kept secret even after the 18-month period has expired. However, such extended secrecy requires particular grounds. A granted patent will always be accessible to the general public.
Patent applications which must be secret according to the Defence Inventions Act, remain secret as long as the decision regarding secrecy remains.
Applications for trademark protection at PRV
PRV may, at the request of one party in a case, keep sensitive business or operational information secret. However, it is not possible to keep information that is necessary to assess the registration's validity or scope secret, for example, who the applicant is or which classes the trademark registration covers.
Applications for design protection at PRV
Information in an application for design protection is not normally protected by confidentiality. In order to keep such information secret, the applicant must request it. Documents may not be given out until the applicant gives their consent, the requested time limit has expired or after six months have passed from the date the application was made or from the priority date, if priority has been requested. If a design application, which includes a secret document, is rejected or dismissed before the time of secrecy has expired, the document may be given out only if the applicant requests that the application be reinstated or if the decision regarding rejection or dismissal is appealed.
PRV offers a variety of search services within the areas of patents, trademarks and designs. All commissions concerning novelty searches and similar examinations are carried out with absolute confidentiality. All orders and all results are secret. Documents are never given out to anyone other than the customer and commission results cannot be cited as a hindrance to novelty in, for example, a patent application. In order to ensure confidentiality when two companies within the same technical area submit commissions to PRV, there are special procedures for when the commissions are carried out by the same technical officer.
No special confidentiality agreements are needed between PRV and the customer, because all material is dealt with as secret according to unconditional provisions in the law. Material and models sent in are retained by PRV.
As emphasized, confidentiality applies in PRV's search services such as novelty searches and other examinations. In other cases where individuals have entered into a business agreement with PRV, the information regarding business and operational relations can also be kept secret, if there is particular reason to believe that the company would be harmed if the information was given out.
For secure electronic submission and delivery of search services, PRV recommends PRV Information Secure (PIS). For more information, please contact our search operation PRV Consulting.
Website and databases
Searches on PRV's website and in databases such as Swedish Patent Database are done through Internet traffic without encryption. Use of the website and search services is anonymous. Any registration of data that does occur, for example of keyword variants, is only used internally in order to make search services more user-friendly. Searches in Swedish Patent Database are cleared daily.
It is possible, to a certain extent, to send and receive encrypted emails. PRV would like to remind its customers that when an email is sent to email@example.com without encryption, the sender is responsible for the risk that it may not reach PRV, for example, if technical problems occur during transmission, or that the receipt of emails at PRV is delayed, or that the email which reaches PRV is unreadable. For that reason, we recommend that applications to PRV are not sent by email.
What is said during telephone contact with PRV about commissions (search services) or inventions which are still under secrecy is never passed on, except when internal communication is necessary in order to give the customer the best possible service. Spoken information in cases regarding the authority's work – for example, applications for patents or trademark and design protection – must be documented in office notes if the information could be relevant for future processing. Office notes result in a written document. Such a document is secret or public at PRV depending on in what type of case the information has been given and what type of information it includes. See the specific headings above.
In the electronic filing of patent applications using the online service Swedish Patent Application, or the filing of commissions using PRV Information Secure (PIS), transmission takes place encrypted with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). An electronic receipt from PRV is received in such applications. The same applies for the electronic filing of patent applications, as well as for the filing of trademark applications and applications for renewals of trademarks directly on our website. The receipt is proof that the application has been received. In electronic patent applications, you also receive the application number that the case has been given. Applications for trademark or design registration can be filed electronically, but must still be confirmed by a handwritten signature on paper.