The Federal Council adopted the Ordinance on Internet Domains (OID) on 5 November 2014. This Ordinance governs the management of the domain names .ch and .swiss.
On the basis of Article 28 of the Telecommunications Act (TCA), the OID is designed to govern the management of domain names as addressing resources within the meaning of Article 3 letters f and g TCA. Addressing resources identify participants in a communication using telecommunications technology. In other words, a domain name is first and foremost a technical instrument which falls under telecommunications legislation. It therefore does not benefit from any special protection as intellectual property.
Nevertheless, a domain name is still a distinctive sign. For this reason, it may violate the rules protecting such marks, in particular the Trade Mark Protection Act (TmPA). Such disputes, which derive from the rights attached to distinctive signs, must be decided by courts based on existing law and are not governed by the OID, with the notable exception of the dispute resolution procedures provided for in Article 14 OID, which top-level domain managers (registries) have to implement.
a) Information on new internet domain names
ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, introduced new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) in June 2011. This decision removed the barriers from the internet addressing system and made it possible to file a request to register any character string as a top-level domain (e.g. .example) with some exceptions, such as country names.
Use of the extension .swiss has been attributed to the Swiss Confederation. The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) manages the domain .swiss on its behalf. It checks, publishes and validates every request based on the principles set out in the OID.
In certain circumstances, the domain name .swiss can constitute an indication of source. For example, a consumer may expect a .swiss website to feature products from Switzerland. In this case, any risk of deception regarding the origin of products must be avoided.
If you have any questions about the internet and domain names, and gTLDs in particular, please contact OFCOM, the competent federal authority.
If you have any other questions or you need advice regarding a dispute involving domain names and trade marks, please contact a trade mark consultant.
b) Domain name dispute resolution services
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) formulated a set of recommendations on the protection of trade marks against abusive registrations as domain names for the top-level domains .com, .net et .org (final report of 30.4.1999). On the basis of these recommendations, ICANN adopted the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). This policy is implemented by the domain names dispute resolution services managed by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center.
These mechanisms are an efficient way of resolving abusive registration and domain name registrations in bad faith that violate trade mark rights. This administrative procedure is without prejudice to recourse to the competent courts.
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