Is someone trying to exploit your trade mark? Is your product being copied?
Respond with informed, firm action. Document any imitations and keep track of the surrounding situation. An attorney (patent or trade mark) can help you analyse the situation, assess the legality and find an effective strategy for responding. Many cases of infringement occur unintentionally and the parties involved can resolve it outside of court. Often simply sending a cease-and-desist letter indicating the infringing act and describing the legal situation and consequences if the infringement continues is sufficient. The parties involved can also draw up an agreement defining who can legally use the invention, trade mark, or design, and how it can be used in the future. Otherwise, litigation proceedings can be initiated against the infringing party.
However, to prevent infringement from occurring in the first place, we recommend monitoring the register (see, Monitor your competition). If a trade mark which is identical or similar to yours has been published, as the owner of the prior trade mark, you have the right to file an opposition to us within 3 months of publication of the trade mark in question. Opposition proceedings are relatively simple and cheap, and determine whether the two trade marks are confusing. If so, the more recent trade mark will be cancelled.
Swiss patent law recognises an opposition procedure which is restricted to the establishment of patentability according to Article 1a, 1b and 2 of the law (i.e. in particular for biotechnology inventions). If the parties involved cannot come to an agreement in case of conflict, they must take it to court.
In case of conflict, registered rights, whether trade mark, patent, or design, have an advantage in that they provide clear, officially documented evidence for the scope of protection, the application/filing date, owner, etc.
- Opposition procedure (trade marks): detailed information about the opposition procedure can also be found in our Trade Mark Examination Guidelines in German, French and Italian.
- Opposition procedure (patents)
- www.admin.ch: Nullity action, art. 26 of the Federal Act on Patents for Inventions (Patents Act, PatA)
- www.promarca.ch: The trade mark brochure (in German and French) from the Swiss brand name trade association contains information about possible measures to take in cases of intellectual property infringement.
- Information about counterfeiting and piracy.
Good to know
- Owners of patents, registered trade marks or designs and copyright can defend themselves against imported or exported counterfeited or pirated products by requesting assistance from the federal customs administration. The customs agents can temporarily withhold suspicious shipments at the border. For more information and fact sheets, go to the website of the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (www.bazg.admin.ch).
- IPI databases: They provide information on Swiss trade marks, patents, designs and supplementary protection certificates, and on international trade marks protected in Switzerland.
- www.swissreg.ch: The IPI’s official publication organ contains information on Swiss trade marks, patents, designs, supplementary protection certificates and topographies. In Swissreg, you can also search for specific publications, such as recent entries and register changes.
Harmonisation and partial revision of guidelines as of 1 July 2023
Conference on Intellectual Property & Sustainability at the University of Geneva
Symposium: "Best practices in the fight against counterfeiting & piracy – NFTs not your cup of tea? Well, they should: NFTs as a new way of fighting counterfeiting and piracy"