5. Protection of Property Rights
The Finnish legal system protects and enforces property rights and secured interests in property, both movable and real. Finland ranked first of 129 countries in the Property Rights Alliance 2020 International Property Rights Index (IPRI) which concentrates on a country’s legal and political environment, physical property rights, and intellectual property rights (IPR).
Mortgages exist in Finland and can be applied to both owned and rented real estate. Finland ranks 34th out of 190 countries in the ease of Registering Property according to the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report. In Finland, real property formation, development, land consolidation, cadastral mapping, registration of real properties, ownership and legal rights, real property valuation, and taxation are all combined within one basic cadastral system (real estate register) maintained by the National Land Survey: https://www.maanmittauslaitos.fi/en/real-property .
Intellectual Property Rights
The Finnish legal system protects intellectual property rights (IPR), and Finland adheres to numerous related international agreements. One of Prime Minister Marin’s goals is to draft a National IPR Strategy for Finland.
Treaties: Finland is a member of the World International Property Organization (WIPO) and party to a number of its treaties, including the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, and the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (Rome Convention). Finland is party to the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Copyrights: The Finnish Copyright Act can be found at: https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/text/397616 . Guidelines applicable for international use were published in 2016 and can be found at: https://www.cupore.fi/en/publications/cupore-s-publications/assessing-the-operation-of-copyright-and-related-rights-systems-141052-14122016 . Distribution of information on copyright and surveillance of rights is performed by the Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre (CIAPC).
Trademarks: The new Finnish Trademarks Act entered into force in May 2019. With this Act, Finland implemented the revised EU Trademark Directive, enforces the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, and brings the 1964 trademark regulations up to date. Provisions concerning collective marks and control marks are included in the Act, which nullified the Act on Collective Marks. The Act also includes amendments to related legislation such as the Finnish Company Names Act, the Criminal Code, and relevant procedural acts. Trademark applicants or proprietors not domiciled in Finland are required to have a representative resident in the European Economic Area. Finland is party to the Madrid Protocol.
Trade secrets: In August 2018, Finland adopted a new Trade Secrets Act to incorporate the provisions of the EU Directive 2016/943 on Trade Secrets. The new Act replaces the Unfair Business Practices Act and provides harmonized definitions at the EU level for trade secrets, their lawful and unlawful acquisition, and their use and disclosure. The Act also includes a whistleblower provision according to which a person (e.g. an employee) is allowed to disclose a trade secret in order to reveal malpractice or illegal activity, so long as it is done to protect the public interest and the person has significant reasons to reveal the information. The Trade Secrets Act can be found at: https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2018/20180595 (available only in Finnish and Swedish).
Patents: Patent rights in Finland are consistent with international standards, and a granted patent is valid for 20 years. The Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH) website contains unofficial translations in English of the Patents Act, Patents Decree, and Patent Regulations https://www.prh.fi/en/patentit/lainsaadantoa.html . The regulatory framework for process patents filed before 1995, and pending in 1996, denied adequate protection to many of the top-selling U.S. pharmaceutical products currently on the Finnish market. For this reason, Finland was placed on USTR’s Special 301 Report Watch List in 2009 but was removed in 2015 when the term for relevant patents expired.
Designs: Finland is party to the Locarno Agreement and the Hague Agreement for Industrial Designs, and design are protected by the Finnish Registered Designs Act. The Designs Register at the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH) contains entries about national designs, i.e. design rights, applied for and registered in Finland: https://mallioikeustietopalvelu.prh.fi/en .
Finnish Customs officers have ex-officio authority to seize and destroy counterfeit goods. IPR enforcement in Finland is based on EU Regulation 608/2013. In 2020, according to the Grey Economy Crime statistics, Finnish customs authorities inspected 119,337 suspected counterfeit goods (with a value of USD 240 million). The number and value of counterfeit goods detained by Finnish Customs have been in decline since 2013. The long-term trend indicates a decline in counterfeit goods detected in large volume shipments. However, due to increased online purchases, small volume shipments via postal and express freight traffic have increased in number, and these are more difficult to screen for counterfeits.
Finland is mentioned in USTR’s 2020 Notorious Markets List for reportedly hosting a Flokinet server associated with infringing activity.
The link to WIPO’s list of IPR legislation can be found at: https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/legislation/profile/FI .
For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles here: https://www.wipo.int/directory/en/details.jsp?country_code=FI .