Bilateral agreements

on the protection of geographical indications and indications of source

Bilateral agreements on geographical indications and indications of source protect certain designations from wrongful use in commerce. This means that protected geographical indications and names of states and cantons may only be used in compliance with the law of the country of origin.

 

The central concern of bilateral agreements on geographical indications and indications of source is to ensure that:

  • a geographical indication such as the “Basler Leckerli” is only used for a product that is produced in the region named in the indication.
  • a designation such as “Gruyère cheese” is only used for products that come from the corresponding region and are produced according to the relevant product specification. This also applies to designations such as "Gruyère-type cheese".


The agreements contain lists of protected geographical indications according to product group. The agreements also protect the names of states and cantons as well as those of provinces and regions in partner countries.

 

These names are protected for all products and goods. In other words, protection of the indication of source “Switzerland” is not limited to the types of products contained in the lists, but also includes:

  • natural products such as wine
  • agricultural products
  • industrial products such as watches, chocolate and textiles


Protected geographical indications and indications of source may only be used in accordance with the law of the country of origin. This means that a Swiss designation may only be used in a partner country if Swiss law also permits such use. Law enforcement also takes place in accordance with the rules of the country of origin.

Switzerland negotiates such agreements with like-minded partner countries in order to reach a level of protection that goes beyond the minimum standards of protection applicable under the World Trade Organization (WTO). The negotiations are usually conducted by the IPI in collaboration with the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).

  

List of bilateral treaties on geographical indications and indications of source concluded by Switzerland:

  • Treaty of 7 March 1967 between the Swiss Confederation and the Federal Republic of Germany on the protection of indications of source and other geographic names  (RS 0.232.111.191.36)
  • Treaty of 16 November 1973 between the Swiss Confederation and the Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia on the protection of indications of source, appellations of origin and other geographic names (RS 0.232.111.197.41). This treaty remains valid for the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
  • Treaty of 14 March 1974 between the Swiss Confederation and the Republic of France on the protection of indications of source, appellations of origin and other geographic names (RS 0.232.111.193.49)
  • Treaty of 9 April 1974 between the Swiss Confederation and Spain on the protection of indications of source, appellations of origin and similar names  (RS 0.232.111.193.32)
  • Treaty of 16 September 1977 between the Swiss Confederation and the Republic of Portugal on the protection of indications of source, appellations of origin and similar names (RS 0.232.111.196.54)
  • Treaty of 14 December 1979 between the Swiss Confederation and the People's Republic of Hungary on the protection of indications of source, appellations of origin and other geographic names (RS 0.232.111.194.18)
  • Agreement of 21 June 1999 between the Swiss Confederation and the European Union on the exchange of agricultural products; Annex 7 on wines, Annex 8 on spirits and Annex 12 on the PDO and PGI of agricultural products and foodstuffs (RS 0.916.026.81). This agreement is valid for the European Union.
  • Agricultural Agreement of 27 November 2000 between the Swiss Confederation  and the United Mexican States; Annex IV on the mutual recognition and protection of designations for spirits (RS 0.632.315.631.11)
  • Agreement of 29 April 2010 between the Swiss Confederation and Russian Federation on the Protection of Geographical Indications and Appellations of Origin (RS 0.232.111.196.65)
  • Agreement of 23 September 2013 between Jamaica and the Swiss Confederation on the mutual recognition and protection of geographical indications (RS 0.232.111.194.58)
  
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