Defending indications of source

Swiss products and services enjoy an exceptionally good reputation both domestically and abroad. The greater the trust consumers have in the guaranteed origin and quality of a product or service, the greater the risk of wrongful use by free riders.


The rules specified in the Trade Mark Protection Act form the basis for fighting misuse. Companies that want to use the indication of source "Switzerland" must comply with the legally defined criteria and be able to prove this compliance in the event of a legal dispute.


In general, Swiss law is not applicable abroad, which makes it particularly difficult to enforce protection of geographical indications. The possibility of registering both agricultural (e.g. ‘Gruyère’ for cheese) and non-agricultural geographical indications (e.g.‘Genève’ for watches) in a PAO/PGI register, and then registering a geographical mark, allows interested industries to obtain an official IP right in Switzerland. In certain countries, this is a requirement for protection. For companies, this significantly simplifies obtaining and enforcing protection in other countries.


The IPI can file criminal charges in the name of the Swiss Confederation or bring a civil action. Trade and consumer protection associations, who play a key role in enforcement, are also entitled to file criminal charges. You can report a case of wrongful use to the competent authority or bring a civil action.