Supreme Court will hear Sony Sweden's I-LINK appeal
In Romero's Food Products Inc Limited v Sony Sweden (Case B1624-03), the Swedish Supreme Court has announced that it will hear an appeal filed by Sony Sweden against a decision from the Court of Appeal.
Sony Sweden's website includes links to various other global and national Sony sites. Romero's Food Products - the owner of a Swedish registration for I-LINK - objected to the fact that some of these other websites featured references to the term 'i-link'.
By order of a Swedish district court, Sony Sweden was prohibited from use in Sweden of signs including the term 'i-link'. The court ruled that where a party's website has a link to another site, it is also responsible for the contents of the second website. By using the link, said the court, the party is indicating that it wishes to refer to the contents of the second website. Thus, the links on Sony Sweden's website meant that these other sites could be viewed by Swedish internet users and were therefore directed towards the Swedish market. The court concluded that, as a result of these links, the use of the term 'i-link' on the other websites infringed the plaintiff's rights in its I-LINK mark.
On appeal, the Court of Appeal upheld the lower court's decision. The majority of the Court of Appeal said that it did not matter that Sony was using the term 'i-link' on its other sites only in conjunction with information about a Sony computer that was not available for sale in Sweden.
Sony has appealed against the decision and the Supreme Court has announced that it will hear the appeal.
In its appeal, Sony has stated that the judgments from the lower courts result in an unlimited responsibility that is unreasonable. Since there can be links from the second website to a third and so on, the ruling means that there can be no limit to the level of a party's responsibility if it puts a link on its website. Sony is arguing that the courts should determine whether the use of a sign that is similar or identical to a protected mark on a linked website is also a commercial use. It maintains that it is unreasonable for a party to become responsible for such use on a linked website, when it does not sell the goods in question on the Swedish market.
Jens Olsson, Jonas Gulliksson Advocates Ltd, Malmo
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