Principles of trademark law
Trademark protection in Switzerland is based on registration. Trademarks must be registered in the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) located in Bern.
Under the Madrid Agreement or the Madrid Protocol, Swiss trademark protection may be extended to other contracting countries of the Madrid system. Only applications for international registration under the Madrid system may be filed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. Direct applications or regional filings must be made to the office in the relevant location.
As Switzerland is not a member of the European Community, the community trademark as well as other regional trademarks cannot be registered in the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. Hence, the Trademark applications must be filed directly with the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trademarks and Designs), in Alicante, Spain.
National registration and international registration are interdependent, e.g. international registration is associated with the underlying Swiss trademark for a period of five years. If the Swiss trademark lapses within this period or if its scope of protection is reduced, for example by partial cancellation, this also applies to the international registration. Only after a period of five years does the international registration become independent.
2. Sources of Law
Trademarks and registration procedure are regulated by the Swiss Federal Statute on Trademark Protection (Systematic Registry of Swiss Statutes, SR 232.11), as well by the regulations hereto. Unfair competition is regulated by the Swiss Federal Statute on Unfair competition (SR 241) and by different regulations.
On the international level, Switzerland is member of most international agreements relating to trademark and intellectual property protection like the Paris Convention, the Madrid Agreement, the Madrid Protocol, the Nice Agreement, as well as WIPO and Trips Agreements. The head office of WIPO is situated in Geneva, Switzerland.
3. Types of trademarks
By far the largest proportion of trademark applications relate to individual marks. As the name would indicate, this type of mark is used by an individual company wishing to distinguish its products or services from those of its competitors. The company may furthermore license its mark to business partners, which is generally achieved by means of a written licensing agreement.
A collective mark represents the goods or services of an association of manufacturing, commercial or service companies with the aim of...