The Borderline Between Legitimate and Unfair Copying of Products – A Unified Scandinavian Approach?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionIIC - International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law. 2020, 51 (9), 1033-1061. 10.1007/s40319-020-00986-z
Freedom of imitation, outside the boundaries of intellectual property protection, can be considered as a prerequisite for free competition in a free market economy. The rules on unfair competition should therefore not serve to extend exclusive rights beyond their scope and term of protection. On the other hand, regulations within national law that prohibit the unfair copying of products may be justified in order to avoid market failure, being directed towards the optimizing of fair competition among honest traders. The borderline between these two opposite positions is regulated with different approaches in the European countries. This article considers the extent to which the public interest in free competition and the protection of a trader against unfair competition function together in a complementary manner under Scandinavian legislation. In the early 1970s, the Scandinavian countries developed a distinctive approach to regulations on unfair competition under the Marketing Laws. This article undertakes an investigation of these regulations relating to the borderline between legitimate and unfair copying as of 2020, revealing the extent to which there is a unified approach to copying in Scandinavia. Differences between the regulations will have influence on the legal relationship and conflicts among traders operating in all three countries, while a unified Scandinavian approach could serve as a robust solution for navigating the borderline between legitimate and unfair copying. Such analysis might also shed light on how a Scandinavian approach fits into a broader European perspective on this borderline. Thus, the aim of this article is to analyze potential different approaches to the tension between the marketing rules outside the boundaries of intellectual property protection and the principle of legitimate copying. Examination of this borderline can be connected to how the trader’s investments and behaviour are balanced against a market-oriented approach to copying.