Swiss goods and services are particularly valued by consumers, so it's no wonder that such products enjoy an excellent reputation both home and abroad.
As a result, a higher price can be charged for Swiss products than similar products not from Switzerland or whose origin is unknown (i.e. a 'Swissness' premium). This economic added value can account for up to 20 per cent of the sales price for agricultural products and typical Swiss products. For luxury goods, it can even amount to as much as 50 per cent. This is shown in several studies: ETHZ, 2008, University of St. Gallen et al., 2008, 2010, 2013.
Meanwhile, more and more companies are using the "Switzerland" brand. In addition to their own brand label, they are using the Swiss cross on their products and services (co-branding) or another appealing reference to Switzerland (e.g. 'Swiss', 'Switzerland', 'Swiss Quality', 'Made in Switzerland' or figurative marks such as the Matterhorn or Wilhelm Tell). In parallel to the success of the “Switzerland” brand, however, instances of wrongful use have also greatly increased. Some products labelled with the indication "Switzerland" or with the Swiss cross hardly have anything to do with Switzerland. Such wrongful or questionable use of the Swiss brand is leading to a loss in image and value of the Swiss brand and is damaging the credibility of 'Made in Switzerland'. Because once a consumer has been misled by an erroneous "Switzerland" indication, he loses confidence in it and will look around for more reliable alternatives.
Such a negative development has not only led to complaints from both the business community and consumers, but it has also initiated many parliamentary requests. To avoid instances of wrongful use and to sustainably maintain the 'Swissness' premium, Parliament adopted the 'Swissness' legislative amendment on 21 June 2013 following three-and-a-half years of intensive debate. It approved the Federal Council's proposed amendments to the Trade Mark Protection Act and Coat of Arms Protection Act. The aim of the new regulations is to improve protection of the geographical indication "Switzerland" and the Swiss cross domestically – as well as with a view to legally enforcing their use both home and abroad.
New criteria laid down by law will specify how much "Switzerland" must be in a product so that it can be labelled as being Swiss. The most prized sign indicating origin in terms of marketing – the Swiss cross – can not only be used commercially for services, but it can also be affixed to products, provided they meet the 'Swissness' criteria.
Anyone wishing to benefit from the 'Swissness' added value can do so free of charge. Authorisation is not required, nor will any official verification be carried out. Only the legal regulations must be complied with and, if required, be able to be proven if the 'Swissness' brand is used.
Only those wishing to label their services or goods with the Swiss cross or with the indication "Switzerland" must respect the 'Swissness' regulations. Companies that cannot or do not want to fulfil the 'Swissness' criteria, can continue to produce their products as previously and advertise them with their own brand. Added value can therefore also be created in this way without having to relinquish Switzerland as their production base.
Harmonisation and partial revision of guidelines as of 1 July 2023
Conference on Intellectual Property & Sustainability at the University of Geneva
Symposium: "Best practices in the fight against counterfeiting & piracy – NFTs not your cup of tea? Well, they should: NFTs as a new way of fighting counterfeiting and piracy"