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Licensavtalsautonomi – Om licensavtalets bestånd vid felaktiga förutsättningar

Brännberg, Carl LU (2013) JURM02 20131
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Licensavtal spelar en betydelsefull roll för att olika typer av immateriella rättigheter ska kunna utnyttjas på ett ekonomiskt effektivt och ändamålsenligt sätt. Istället för att behöva investera stora mängder kapital för att kunna omsätta sina idéer eller sin framtagna design till faktiska produkter, kan en rättighetsinnehavare erhålla relativt snabb och säker avkastning genom att någon annan – en licenstagare – tillåts göra bruk av rättigheterna. Denne licenstagare får samtidigt möjlighet att förvärva ett försteg gentemot sina konkurrenter, utan att själv ha behövt investera i det ofta omfattande och riskabla forsknings- och utvecklingsarbete som ligger till grund för sådana fördelar.

Den rättighet som en sådan upplåtelse avser... (More)
Licensavtal spelar en betydelsefull roll för att olika typer av immateriella rättigheter ska kunna utnyttjas på ett ekonomiskt effektivt och ändamålsenligt sätt. Istället för att behöva investera stora mängder kapital för att kunna omsätta sina idéer eller sin framtagna design till faktiska produkter, kan en rättighetsinnehavare erhålla relativt snabb och säker avkastning genom att någon annan – en licenstagare – tillåts göra bruk av rättigheterna. Denne licenstagare får samtidigt möjlighet att förvärva ett försteg gentemot sina konkurrenter, utan att själv ha behövt investera i det ofta omfattande och riskabla forsknings- och utvecklingsarbete som ligger till grund för sådana fördelar.

Den rättighet som en sådan upplåtelse avser preciseras vanligen i avtalet mellan parterna, på samma sätt som kvalitet och kvantitet ofta närmare anges i ett konventionellt varuhandelsavtal. Det faktum att immateriella rättigheter till sitt omfång inte definitivt fastställs förrän en domstol eventuellt har prövat frågan, gör dem emellertid till svårdefinierade avtalsobjekt. Med detta i beaktande är det lätt att föreställa sig fall där en divergens föreligger mellan det skyddsomfång licensgivare och licenstagare utgår ifrån vid ett licensavtals ingående, och vad som faktiskt visar sig gälla i realiteten om rättigheten senare utmanas.

I uppsatsen belyses hur två licensavtalsparters överenskomna fördelning av rättigheter och skyldigheter påverkas av en sådan situation; främst med fokus på potentiella frånträdesmöjligheter för den då missgynnade kontrahenten. Från flera håll har de immateriella rättigheternas säregna slag framförts som grund för att en direkt tillämpning av allmänna civilrättsliga regler inte torde komma ifråga beträffande licensavtal. Efter att denna avtalstyps grundläggande egenskaper emellertid ställts i relation till de allmänna avtals- och obligationsrättsliga reglerna, förefaller dessa trots allt bilda den palett från vilken samtliga färger tas när den aktuella tavlan över rättsläget ska målas.

Såväl avtalslagens ogiltighetsgrunder som allmänna kontraktsrättsliga regler om rätt till hävning till följd av ett väsentligt fel synes tveklöst stå en missnöjd licensavtalspart till buds, på samma sätt som vid flertalet andra typer av avtal. Även om restriktivitet i regel är påkallad för dessa frånträdesregler torde licensavtalens särskilda egenskaper kunna anstränga partsautonomins bestånd i något högre utsträckning än sedvanligt. Den utökade lojalitetsplikt som denna typ av varaktiga och samarbetsbetonade avtal ofta medför, i kombination med den osäkerhet som ligger inbunden i immateriella rättigheter som avtalsobjekt, är faktorer som kan göra licensavtalen mer mottagliga för ingripanden än normalt är fallet. Framför allt när den missgynnade parten till följd av de felaktiga förutsättningarna gör kännbara förluster, och inte minst om en betydande skillnad i styrkeförhållandet mellan parterna dessutom kan skönjas till den missgynnade partens nackdel. (Less)
Abstract
Licensing agreements play a critical role in the enabling of economically efficient and purposeful ways to exploit intellectual property rights. Instead of having to invest large amounts of money, time and energy to turn one’s ideas, designs or creative expression into actual products, an intellectual property owner can obtain a reasonably swift and reliable return by letting somebody else – a licensee – make use of the right(s). Simultaneously, the licensee gets to acquire an advantage toward its competitors, without having had to conduct the oftentimes extensive and financially risky research and development that is necessary to bring about such improvements.

The particular intellectual property that is the subject of such a licensing... (More)
Licensing agreements play a critical role in the enabling of economically efficient and purposeful ways to exploit intellectual property rights. Instead of having to invest large amounts of money, time and energy to turn one’s ideas, designs or creative expression into actual products, an intellectual property owner can obtain a reasonably swift and reliable return by letting somebody else – a licensee – make use of the right(s). Simultaneously, the licensee gets to acquire an advantage toward its competitors, without having had to conduct the oftentimes extensive and financially risky research and development that is necessary to bring about such improvements.

The particular intellectual property that is the subject of such a licensing agreement is generally specified therein, just as quality and quantity is typically outlined in a purchase agreement regarding conventional goods. However, the fact that intellectual property rights are not conclusively defined until tried in a court of law makes them somewhat ambiguous and problematic as subjects of agreement. This considered, it is not difficult to imagine situations where a discrepancy appears between the scope of protection presupposed by the parties at the conclusion of the agreement, and the actual scope of protection as it is subsequently defined by a court of law (in case the intellectual property right is challenged by a third party).

This thesis analyzes how unforeseen and mistaken conditions concerning the scope of protection of licensed intellectual property affect the parties’ initial agreement; primarily with regards to the negatively affected party’s possibilities of termination or withdrawal from the agreement. A recurrent contention is that general civil law rules and regulations are not directly applicable to license agreements, due to the particular legal characteristics of intellectual property rights. After examining the fundamental features of these types of agreements however, and comparing them to established contract law rules and principles, it appears as if the complete formula governing license agreements is derived from such contract law.

The bases of invalidity under the Swedish Contract Act, as well as the established principle of a right to terminate an agreement upon a substantial breach of contract, are all at the disposal of any disadvantaged party to a licensing agreement. Furthermore, the particular characteristics of these agreements – mainly an extended duty of loyalty due to the cooperative and long-term features of these contracts, and the inherent ambiguity of the scope of protection of intellectual property – ought to make them somewhat more susceptible to interference and modification than what is usually the case. Even more so, if the disadvantaged party as a result of the faulty conditions suffers significant economic losses, and additionally is deemed to be the weaker party to the contract. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Brännberg, Carl LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Party autonomy in licensing - wrongful conditions as grounds for termination or withdrawal from a contract
course
JURM02 20131
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Contract Law, Intellectual Property Law
language
Swedish
id
3562261
date added to LUP
2013-05-22 15:41:36
date last changed
2013-05-22 15:41:36
@misc{3562261,
  abstract     = {Licensing agreements play a critical role in the enabling of economically efficient and purposeful ways to exploit intellectual property rights. Instead of having to invest large amounts of money, time and energy to turn one’s ideas, designs or creative expression into actual products, an intellectual property owner can obtain a reasonably swift and reliable return by letting somebody else – a licensee – make use of the right(s). Simultaneously, the licensee gets to acquire an advantage toward its competitors, without having had to conduct the oftentimes extensive and financially risky research and development that is necessary to bring about such improvements.

The particular intellectual property that is the subject of such a licensing agreement is generally specified therein, just as quality and quantity is typically outlined in a purchase agreement regarding conventional goods. However, the fact that intellectual property rights are not conclusively defined until tried in a court of law makes them somewhat ambiguous and problematic as subjects of agreement. This considered, it is not difficult to imagine situations where a discrepancy appears between the scope of protection presupposed by the parties at the conclusion of the agreement, and the actual scope of protection as it is subsequently defined by a court of law (in case the intellectual property right is challenged by a third party).

This thesis analyzes how unforeseen and mistaken conditions concerning the scope of protection of licensed intellectual property affect the parties’ initial agreement; primarily with regards to the negatively affected party’s possibilities of termination or withdrawal from the agreement. A recurrent contention is that general civil law rules and regulations are not directly applicable to license agreements, due to the particular legal characteristics of intellectual property rights. After examining the fundamental features of these types of agreements however, and comparing them to established contract law rules and principles, it appears as if the complete formula governing license agreements is derived from such contract law.

The bases of invalidity under the Swedish Contract Act, as well as the established principle of a right to terminate an agreement upon a substantial breach of contract, are all at the disposal of any disadvantaged party to a licensing agreement. Furthermore, the particular characteristics of these agreements – mainly an extended duty of loyalty due to the cooperative and long-term features of these contracts, and the inherent ambiguity of the scope of protection of intellectual property – ought to make them somewhat more susceptible to interference and modification than what is usually the case. Even more so, if the disadvantaged party as a result of the faulty conditions suffers significant economic losses, and additionally is deemed to be the weaker party to the contract.},
  author       = {Brännberg, Carl},
  keyword      = {Contract Law,Intellectual Property Law},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Licensavtalsautonomi – Om licensavtalets bestånd vid felaktiga förutsättningar},
  year         = {2013},
}