Indications of source

While trade marks create a link between a product or service and a particular company, indications of source create a link between a product and a geographical place. In other words, it indicates where the goods have been produced or processed. Such information can be found on food products, agricultural products, industrial good and even services.

Indications of source may not be deceptive. For example, a Swiss importer of Italian apples may not indicate that the apples originated in Switzerland.

Trade marks and indications of source complement one another. A strawberry producer from Seeland can distinguish itself from its competitor (also from the lakes district) through its use of a  word trade mark: For instance, «MÜLLER» strawberries from Seeland are distinct from «TROILAC» strawberries also from Seeland.


The Trade Mark Protection Act protects against any kind of unlawful use of an indication of source for goods and services without any kind of registration being necessary. 


Switzerland is a member of two international treaties which regulate the protection of indications of source and are administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO):  The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property forbids the wrongful use of indications of source on goods and the Madrid Agreement for the Repression of False or Deceptive Indications of Source on Goods which provides measures against the wrongful commercial use.
The protection of Swiss indications of source abroad is subject to the laws of the country in question.
Switzerland has entered into bilateral free trade treaties or another specific agreement with some countries which facilitate protection or ensure that the criteria for geographical origin are applied that way they are defined by Swiss law.