Indications of source

at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

The Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) is responsible for developing international law on indications of source. These are protected, in particular, by the Paris Convention and the Madrid Agreement on Indications of Source. The Paris Convention also protects state emblems. Appellations of origin benefit from an international registration system based on the Lisbon Agreement.


The Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications

This standing committee is a body of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Bringing together experts from around the world, it is responsible for normative work in the field of international law on indications of source, geographical indications (GIs) and state emblems. It also encourages the harmonisation of national laws. Switzerland actively participates in the work of the SCT with a delegation of specialists from the IPI.


Protecting indications of source: the Paris Convention and the Madrid Agreement

Switzerland is a member of two treaties administered by the WIPO that protect indications of source. Firstly, the Paris Convention (1883), which prevents the use of false indications concerning the origin of products. Secondly, the Madrid Agreement for the Repression of False or Deceptive Indications of Source on Goods (1891), which provides for measures against commercial misuse.


Protecting state emblems: the Paris Convention

Article 6ter of the Paris Convention protects flags and state emblems against non-authorised registration and use as a trade mark. Names and emblems of international intergovernmental organisations and official hallmarks are also protected under this article. Emblems and hallmarks are notified by states and intergovernmental organisations and published in an electronic database.


Protecting appellations of origin: the Lisbon Agreement

WIPO also administers the Lisbon Agreement (1958) for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration. Switzerland has not ratified this treaty, which establishes an international register of appellations of origin. The Lisbon Agreement was revised in 2015 by the Geneva Act, which, in particular, extends the scope of protection of the treaty to geographical indications. The Geneva Act will enter into force when at least five members of the WIPO have ratified it.


The Federal Council is proposing that Switzerland accedes to the Geneva Act, which will permit beneficiaries of Swiss appellations of origin and geographical indications to obtain protection abroad through a single, inexpensive procedure. The cantons, the Federal Supreme Court, the political parties, local authority umbrella organisations, the towns and alpine regions working at national level, the economic umbrella organisations working at national level and other interested parties, as well as the Government of the Principality of Liechtenstein have been invited to decide on approval of the draft Geneva Act and modifications to the Federal Act on the Protection of Trade Marks and Indications of Source.

The results of the public consultation procedure are available on the website of the Federal Chancellery.




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