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Free Trade Agreement with China
On 1 July 2014 the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) between Switzerland and China entered into force. The agreement was signed by Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann and the Chinese Minister of Commerce GAO Hucheng on 6 July 2013 in Beijing.
For explanations on the content of the entire agreement please consult the factsheet by the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs.
The agreement also contains substantial provisions on the protection of intellectual property rights (Chapter 11 of the main agreement and Annex IX in connection with article 11.10 of the main agreement).
As regards the protection for intellectual property the Parties commit to apply high level interna-tional standards in accordance with the principles of MFN and national treatment. The Parties undertake to deepen their cooperation within the framework of the institutionalized bilateral dia-logue on intellectual property which was initiated in 2007.
Compared to the multilateral standards of the TRIPS Agreement, the level of protection in vari-ous areas is specified more precisely or enhanced. Protection must be provided for acoustic trademarks as a new category of trademark. In the field of patents, the patentability of biotech-nological inventions is specified in accordance with the European Patent Convention. Further-more, the Parties may require in case a patent application is filed and the invention is based on genetic materials or traditional knowledge, such materials and knowledge are indicated. The confidentiality of test data in relation of marketing approval procedures for pharmaceutical and agro-chemical products must be protected for at least six years. The level of protection for geo-graphical indications for wines and spirits under article 23 TRIPS is extended to all products. Goods and services must be protected from misleading indications of origin, and country names, national flags and coats-of-arms of the Parties must be protected from misleading use and registration as company or brand names. Compared to the UPOV Convention (1978 version, of which China is a signatory) the protection for new varieties of plants is extended to the exportation of such varieties. Furthermore, in the 2016 revision of the national list of protectable varieties China declares that it is prepared to give priority to certain plant varieties which are im-portant to Swiss industry.
With regard to legal enforcement, the FTA provides that measures taken by customs authorities to combat counterfeiting and piracy are to be applied not only at import of goods but at export as well. The seizure of suspect products (on an ex officio basis or at the request of the rights holder) is foreseen. The measures shall apply in the event of infringement of trademarks and copyrights, as well as of patents and protected designs. In addition, civil and criminal proceedings for the prosecution of breaches of the law and for claiming compensation have to be made available, with the possibility to order precautionary measures as well as immediate provisional measures. In civil proceedings measures both against infringing goods and materials and tools which were used for the production of such goods must be available (including confiscation and destruction).