The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is an international organisation with offices in Geneva, Brussels and Luxembourg. Within the framework of the EFTA, Switzerland maintains numerous free trade agreements, which also contain rules to protect intellectual property. The agreements make an important contribution to protecting innovation.
- Switzerland is a member of the EFTA, together with Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway.
- In 1960, the EFTA set up a free trade zone to promote trade and economic cooperation between members (EFTA Convention).
- The EFTA Convention contains provisions (pdf) on intellectual property, among other things.
- Since the early 1990s, EFTA members have been negotiating free trade agreements with third countries (see EFTA third-country policy); Switzerland has already signed many such agreements.
- Together with the EU, the EFTA member states of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein make up the European Economic Area (EEA).
- Switzerland as a business location relies on a well-developed international system to protect intellectual property rights.
- The expansion of free trade requires improved protection for the intellectual property of innovative products and services being traded.
- The protection of intellectual property, such as patents, trade marks, geographical indications and designs, has become increasingly important in global trade in recent years.
- We are part of the Swiss delegation in free trade negotiations with third countries. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) assumes overall responsibility.
- We negotiate the relevant chapter and annex on the protection of intellectual property.
- We represent Switzerland at meetings of the Working Group on Intellectual Property (EFTA/EEA) with the EU Commission in Brussels.
Ingo Meitinger, The Protection of Intellectual Property in EFTA Free Trade Agreements with Third Countries, sic! (in German only) 2004, 192.
NB: In EFTA agreements, substantive provisions relating to the protection of intellectual property are usually contained in an IPR annex to the main agreement.
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"