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The "Swissness" legislation

Swiss products and services enjoy an excellent reputation both domestically and abroad, which is why Swiss indications of source are being used with increasing popularity. Unfortunately, they are also being used more frequently by free riders too. The new 'Swissness' legislation therefore strengthens protection for the 'Made in Switzerland' designation and the Swiss cross. It helps prevent and curb their misuse, so that the value of the 'Swiss' brand can be preserved in the long term. The "Swissness" legislation came into force on 1 January 2017.

  

The economic value of Swiss products and services is substantial. In a world that is becoming increasingly globalised, they are renowned for their exceptional reputation both at home and abroad.  Swiss products and services are associated with exclusivity, tradition and quality, with their good reputation inspiring confidence in the product or service in question and ultimately influencing the consumer's buying decision. It also presents a clear competitive advantage for manufacturers and service providers, who can position products and services linked with Switzerland in a higher price segment.

The success of the ‘Swiss’ brand is generating great interest, but also attracting free riders at the same time, which has resulted in an increase in the ‘Swiss Made’ designation being wrongly used both at home and abroad. This is damaging the credibility of the geographical origin Switzerland.

 

On 2 September 2015, the Federal Council approved the new ‘Swissness’ legislation which came into force on 1 January 2017. The new 'Swissness' criteria strengthen the protection of the ‘Made in Switzerland’ designation and the Swiss Cross domestically and with a view to law enforcement abroad. This preserves their value in the long term and provides a foundation for an effective fight against wrongful use.

 

The core of the bill establishes precise rules in the Trade Mark Protection Act (TmPA) concerning the conditions under which a product or service may be labelled as being Swiss. Anyone who fulfils these criteria may opt to use the ‘Made in Switzerland’ designation without authorisation – as, indeed, they already could prior to the entry into force of the new legislation. If these rules are complied with, not only can services be endorsed with the Swiss cross, but with the introduction of the new "Swissness" legislation, goods also. Use of the Swiss coat of arms continues to remain reserved for the commonwealth.

 

The possibility of  registering non-agricultural geographical indications of source in a new register, on the basis of it being a geographical mark (for example, ‘Genève’ for watches), allows interested industries to obtain an official IP right in Switzerland. This significantly simplifies obtaining and enforcing protection in the future, particularly abroad.

 

Do you want to know if you may rightfully sell your product as “Swiss Made” or use the Swiss cross as part of your trade mark or on your packaging?

The new Trade Mark Protection Act (TmPA) divides goods into three categories: natural products, foodstuffs and industrial products. The criteria that determine the origin of a service have also been adapted.  Anyone wishing to use a "Swiss" label for advertising purposes must meet the criteria for determining origin as defined in the TmPA.

  

Contact/Questions

Felix Addor, Deputy Director General
Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property
Tel +41 31 377 72 01
Email

 

Alexander Pfister
Legal Services – Industrial Property Rights
Tel +41 31 377 74 88
Email