Secrecy and confidentiality

Transparency and openness are important principles that enable society to have trust in public administration. This is important both for the legal certainty of the individual and to enable democratic control of the exercise of authority by public administration. There are nevertheless some exceptions to this that provide the right to secrecy at the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO).

General information about duty of care

The Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO) has a duty of confidentiality regarding applications and documents in matters that are not generally available. You can also request that information about business secrets can be withheld from the public according to certain rules, and the duty of confidentiality will apply if the NIPO decides that this information can be removed.

Duty of confidentiality in oral communication

From time to time you will be able to have verbal contact with the NIPO, for example through a telephone conversation or a meeting with us. The NIPO has a statutory duty of confidentiality regarding business secrets or private matters that we become aware of in a meeting with you.

We write down certain information

The NIPO is obliged to record information of value that we received orally in connection with the processing of specific applications. Whether such information is confidential or not depends on what kind of information it is and whether the application to which the information relates is generally available or not.

Patent application

An application for a patent and the correspondence in the case become generally available 18 months after the day the application is submitted to the NIPO, possibly sooner if you request it.

International patent applications that have been forwarded in Norway become generally available after 18 months from the priority date.

If you withdraw the application before it becomes generally available, it will not be made public, in other words it will remain secret.

If there are special reasons, you can also ask that special business secrets not be made public.


For patent applications relating to inventions important to defence, there are also special rules on secrecy. Special rules apply to the submission, processing and communication of these applications.

Read more about inventions of importance to defence

Design application

Bibliographic information and documents that cannot reveal the appearance of the design become generally available already from the day of application. Bibliographic information is, for example, information about the applicant's and designer's name and address, as well as the product review.

Documents that show the appearance of the design (image of the design) are automatically kept secret for up to six months, unless you request that the entire application be made publicly available already upon submission.

When the design is registered, these documents will become generally available, even if this happens before six months have passed since the application was submitted.

This applies, for example, to information about the applicant and designer's name and address, as well as the product description.

It is possible to postpone the registration for up to six months from the application date or the priority date, or to specify a specific date within this period.

If registration has not taken place within six months from the application date or the priority date, the application will automatically become generally available.

Information about business secrets can be exempted from the public domain if the applicant requires it. You must notify us of this at the same time as you submit the document.

The extent to which the document can be kept secret is decided according to Section 21, fourth paragraph, of the Design Act.

Trademark application

An application for trademark registration and all documents in the case are generally available already from the day the application is submitted to the NIPO. This means that anyone can see that a trademark has been applied for. This involves reproduction of the trademark itself, information about who is the applicant and what goods or services the trademark has been applied for.

Certain information about business secrets can be exempted from public disclosure according to the rules in the Trade Marks Act § 25 second paragraph.

You must actively ask the NIPO for an exemption

The rule gives the NIPO a discretionary right to take information about trade secrets out of the public domain, but the Norwegian Patent Office has no obligation to do this. You must therefore yourself request that information about business secrets be exempted from public access. The NIPO does not assess this on its own initiative.

Business secrets within the meaning of the law

It is not decisive what you yourself think are business secrets. It is precisely the case that not all information is considered business secrets within the meaning of the law. Information that matters for whether a mark can be registered or for the extent of its protection cannot be exempted from public access. Everyone must be able to familiarize themselves with such information to ensure that a valid right is not infringed. Access to such information may also be necessary in order to assess claims for invalidity or deletion. This means that, in practice, it takes quite a bit for information and documentation in trademark cases to be exempted from public access.

What can't be kept secret?

For example, it cannot be kept secret that a trademark has been applied for. Nor can the reproduction of the trade mark, information about who is the applicant or what kind of goods or services have been applied for, be kept confidential. Nor can one exempt a priority claim from the public sector. Incorporation documentation that is submitted to substantiate that a trade mark can be registered, for example information on turnover figures, cannot, as a general rule, be exempted from public disclosure either.

What has been said here about exemptions from publicity for information about trade secrets in trade mark applications also applies in opposition cases and administrative review.

The parties to the case and the proxies can have access

The fact that information about business secrets is exempt from public disclosure does not in principle prevent the parties to the case or their representatives from being made aware of the information.

If the demand for confidentiality is clearly unfounded, the information can be given without further ado to the person who requests access to the case.

  • declarations of consent with reference to a cooperation agreement on a planned hall promotion
  • incorporation documentation that contains information that reveals details of the applicant's marketing strategy
  • Customer lists and mailing lists can also be exempted depending on the circumstances
  • other information about business secrets that is not relevant to the assessment of the application can normally also be excluded

If the demand for confidentiality is clearly unfounded, the information can be given without further ado to the person who requests access to the case.

More about trade secrets

Preliminary investigations

All preliminary investigations are carried out in accordance with the statutory duty of confidentiality. If you order a preliminary examination, in other words, you are guaranteed full confidentiality.

Access to the NIPO's case documents

You can search for the NIPO's case documents yourself in our search service. It says what kind of document you find in the patent, trademark and design register.

You can also contact us if you would like to see a document.

Contact the customer center

Information about the copy service

Information about personal matters

The NIPO has a duty of confidentiality regarding information about someone's personal circumstances, such as information about individuals' physical and mental health, character and emotional life, religious or political views, financial circumstances, etc.

Such information will naturally not be available in the NIPO's search service.

The NIPO's internal working document

The NIPO's internal working documents in specific cases are generally not generally available.

If there is no real and factual need to refuse access, one will still be able to access such internal documents by virtue of the principle of greater public access in Section 11 of the Public Service Act.

Do you have questions about duty of confidentiality and public access?

Contact our customer center on 22 38 73 00.