(Or: What do midwives and patent attorneys authorized in Sweden have in common?)
As a citizen in a society, you have an obligation to give evidence if you are called as a witness. There are several sanctions that can be imposed upon those who refuse. However, an exception to the obligation to give evidence applies to Swedish authorized patent attorneys (as far as concerns patent matters) and midwives.
According to 5§ chapter 36 of the Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure, lawyers, doctors, dentists, midwives, nurses, psychologists, psychotherapists, family advisors, and patent attorneys authorized in Sweden are excluded from the requirement to testify regarding subject matter that has been entrusted to them during their exercise of profession, or that has come to their knowledge in relation to their exercise of profession. The court is not even allowed to ask questions regarding these matters.
According to the Patent Authorization Act, patent matters are matters concerning patentability of an invention, patent application and the prosecution of the patent application, the validity of a patent, the scope of a patent or patent application, and oral proceedings and preparations prior to the oral proceedings.
So now you know one of the perks of being, and hiring, a Swedish authorized patent attorney.
Julia Mannesson, European Patent Attorney and Swedish Authorized Patent Attorney