The Confusion Doctrine; Establishing Swedish compliance with EU Law

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Rättsvetenskap


As a response to trade marks’ enhanced importance within trade, the EU’s interest in the area has increased by proponing a harmonization of the member states’ trade mark pro-tection so far as needed to preserve the EU’s objective of an internal market. The area is therefore regulated by an EU Directive, however allowing some national discretion.

The purpose of this study was to investigate if a specific part of the trade mark protec-tion, the assessment-based confusion doctrine, corresponds on a Swedish and EU level. The aim was to locate statutory discrepancies in order to stimulate further review of the practical application of the doctrine from the analytical perspective of legal certainty.

A scientifically accepted and traditional legal research method was applied when ex-amining and interpreting the sources of law. In addition, a comparative study was con-ducted between the two investigated legal systems to achieve the overall purpose.

When comparing the results from the investigated sources, the legislations present a sta-tutory diversity, opening up for practical discrepancies. So was also the case with the application at the early stage of national implementation of the EU Directive. The tradi-tional national confusion doctrine, prescribing a more legal-technical assessment, did not correspond to the more flexible and contemporary EU view. Consequently, some national courts had to endure criticism for not adjusting to the EU development.

Later case law however presents a very positive transition to the EU view of the confu-sion doctrine, suggesting a partial abandonment of the national legal sources of law for the benefit of EU law. Conclusion was however that despite this practical transition to EU law, statutory changes are necessary in order to safeguard the legal certainty in the way of achieving predictability.

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