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.
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.
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.
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.
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 therefore submitted the item of business for consultation at its meeting on 22 May 2019. The consultation procedure will run until 20 September 2019.
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