Public documents and confidentiality
Basically, everything that is sent to PRV and is registered in the diary is public, so called public documents. It means anyone has the right to access them.
Public documents are documents sent to, or created by, PRV.
Documents that are sent to, or created by, PRV
The basic principal is that documents that are sent to or created by PRV are public and it does not matter if they are paper or digital documents.
The documents that are sent to PRV are mostly patent, trademark or design applications. PRV examines the applications and create new documents related to them.
Other documents that are sent to, or created by, PRV may be in regard to PRV’s role as supervisory authority, our general exercise of authority or the issuing of publication licenses for journals. They may also be in regard to information with the purpose of widening the overall knowledge of intellectual property rights.
Some documents are in regard to other activities of PRV, for example, personnel matters, formal consultations or the procurement of goods and services. Documents as such can either be sent to PRV or created by PRV.
A document is considered public when it is kept with us.
Anything sent to us is public document
Keep in mind that anything you send to us is public document, which means anyone can ask to see it. If you want to be anonymous you should not state your name or contact information when you contact us. However, if you want a response you must of course let us know how to contact you.
Information shared between authorities
Information shared between authorities is also public document. For example, PRV often exchange information with the European Patent Office, EPO, and the European Union Intellectual Property Office, EUIPO. Information from the Swedish Companies Registration Office is often used when PRV examines applications. In return, PRV shares information about nationally registered trademarks with the Swedish Companies Registration Office.
If public documents contain confidential information, that information will be excluded if anyone asks to see them. The document is then presented with the confidential information deleted.
Confidential information is always supported by the secrecy legislation, that states what type of information is confidential and therefore exempt of public documents.
Patent applications often have confidential information, so do design and trademark applications. Documents sent to PRV regarding monitoring services that contains information about patents, designs and trademarks often contain confidential information.
If someone requests to see a public document we must always assess if the document contains any confidential information. It may change over the years, so even if information is considered confidential at one time it does not guarantee that it is always considered confidential.
What is not considered public documents?
Memos and other working documents
A final document created by the authority, for example, expedited decisions or other finalized documents. However, documents created while examining are not public documents. It may be memos or other working documents that are the basis for presentations or internal processing. These are only considered public documents if they are filed with the final case documents and are crucial to the examination of the application.
Information PRV must not share
Books and journals that PRV has purchased or commercial databases that PRV has license to use are not public documents. These are created by someone else and PRV must not share them without permission from the creator. However, databases provided by other authorities and that PRV has access to are considered public documents.
Personal or private messages that PRV receives are most often not public documents. The same confidentiality rules apply to them as if they were sent to a private home.
How do you request a public document?
Anyone visiting PRV have the right to see a public document first-hand. It is free of charge and should be presented as promptly as possible considering other matters that PRV must handle.
You can order copies and printouts of public documents, which you should receive as promptly as possible. It is free of charge up to a certain number of pages, to your e-mail for example. If your request is more extensive you may have to pay a fee.
You can call PRV and request to receive the content of a public document verbally. This is also free of charge.
However, PRV is not obliged to disclose electronically stored information, other than as a printout. If we do, we have the right to charge a fee.
Anyone requesting a public document has the right to be anonymous and does not have to state why the document is requested or how it is to be used. Therefore, PRV does not have the right to ask who is making the request and why, unless it is necessary to decide if there are reasons to not disclose the document.
The easiest way to request a public document is to send an e-mail to PRV.
Who decides if you should be permitted to see a document?
Most often it is the responsible examiner that decides whether the document should be disclosed. If it is difficult to decide the decision may be made by the General Counsel of PRV. You can make an appeal to the Administrative Court of Appeal if PRV decides to not disclose the document.
Databases where you can search for information
There are many databases and search tools that you can use to access information.
PRV may sell personal information
The government wants the authorities to make their public information accessible to private actors, to broaden the openness in public administration. It is stated in the Act on the re-use of public administration documents (2010:566) in the legal databases of the Government Offices.
When PRV examines patent, trademark or design applications we collect personal information. It means that PRV may sell data containing personal information and this personal information may be shared with countries outside of the European Union. It is stated in § 4 of the Ordinance (2007:1111) with instructions for the Swedish Intellectual Property Office that PRV is authorized to share personal information with countries outside of the European Union.
It is stated in the Patents Decree, the Trademarks Regulation and the Design Protection Regulation that PRV is authorized to collect personal information to be able to examine applications.