For IP professionals
This is the portal for professionals working in the field of intellectual property. Here you'll find direct access to all necessary resources.
- Trade Mark Database
- Register changes for trade marks
- Madrid Monitor
- International trade mark registration
- Trade Mark Guidelines (German, French, Italian)
- Classification tool for trade marks
- Trade mark examination support tool
- Trade marks: Costs and fees
- Trade marks: WIPO fee calculator
- Cancellation procedure for trade marks on the grounds of non-use
- Protected public signs: Abbreviations
- Protected public signs: Other signs (emblems)
- Directory of Intellectual Property Offices
- Trade marks: News Service Archive
- Patents: Patent Examination Guidelines (German, French)
- Patents: Fees
Parallel imports and exhaustion
A parallel import is defined as the import of an original product purchased at a lower price in another country. These products can then be sold domestically at a cheaper price in direct competition to the manufacturer. If the products imported into Switzerland are protected by a patent, the system of exhaustion decides whether or not parallel trade is permissible under patent law.
A patent grants its owner the right to exclude others from commercially using the invention. It can prevent third parties from putting the patented product on the market, from importing it or from selling it. This right lapses as soon as the patent owner puts the patented product on the market for the first time. The “lawful acquirer” of the product can then freely determine how he or she wants to use it or whether to resell it.
If the first time the product is placed on the market occurs abroad, the domestic system of exhaustion determines whether the patent owner’s right of exclusion is exhausted and the patented product is open to parallel import without his or her consent.
Which system of exhaustion applies in Switzerland?
The principle of unilateral regional exhaustion (i.e. without agreement of a reciprocal right) in the European Economic Area (EEA) has applied in Switzerland since 2009. This means that the right of exclusion lapses as soon as the patent owner puts the patented product on the market in an EEA country. In such a case, it may also be imported in parallel into Switzerland from the EEA without the owner’s permission. Contrarily, if it is first put on the market in a country outside of the EEA, parallel importation is not allowed unless there is corresponding consent.
Medicines are an exception!
For medicines, the principle of national exhaustion still applies. This means that the patent owner loses his or her right of exclusion only if the patented medicine is put on the market in Switzerland. If, in contrast, the first time the medicine is placed on the market occurs abroad, a parallel import into Switzerland requires the permission of the rights holder.
Documents & links
09.02.2023 | Patents
“A competitor wanted to intimidate us”
19.01.2023 | Law and policy, Event
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"