Trade marks

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 trade mark law. Switzerland actively participates in the work of this committee with a delegation composed of representatives of the IPI. The IPI also represents Switzerland in the working group that is responsible for developing the Madrid System for the registration of international trade marks and the committee of experts in charge of amending the Nice Classification.


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 trade mark law. It also encourages the harmonisation of national laws. Its work has, for example, led to a joint recommendation on the protection of well-known trade marks (1999) and on the protection of trade marks on the internet (2001) (pdf). The SCT has also drawn up the Singapore Treaty (2006), which aims to harmonise the procedure for registering trade marks. The Singapore Treaty is an extension of the Trademark Law Treaty of 1994 (TLT).


The Madrid System

WIPO administers the Madrid System. This international system for trade mark registration allows an applicant, who has submitted a trade mark application in his own country, to request that it also be protected in several other member countries of the system based on a single application filed with WIPO. With this centralised application system, applicants don't need to apply to each country individually where they want to obtain protection for their trade mark. The legal framework is mainly provided for by the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks.

The Working Group of the Madrid Union is responsible for the development of the legal system. It discusses potential rule changes and instructions necessary for the proper development of the system.


The Nice Classification

The Nice Classification is an international classification of products and services for the purposes of trade mark registration. It consists principally of a list of classes, as well as an alphabetic list of products and services with an indication of the class in which each product or service is classified. The legal framework is provided for by the Nice Agreement, which is also administered by WIPO. All of the states party to the Nice Agreement participate in the meetings of a committee of experts established by the treaty. It has been meeting once a year since 2012, whereby it decides on the changes to be made to the Nice Classification, which are then published in the form of new editions every five years, and new versions every year.


The Vienna Agreement

WIPO also administers the Vienna Agreement, which establishes a system of classification for figurative elements for trade marks. Switzerland, which hasn't ratified this treaty, doesn't apply this system of classification.

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