Protecting geographical indications

In addition to simple designations which exclusively refer to the origin of products (e.g. Swiss furniture), there are qualified indications of source (e.g. Gruyère).


They identify products which, due to their geographical origin, possess additional verifiable characteristics and qualities when compared with similar goods and are produced by local traditional methods.


There are two categories of protection:

  • Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs), e.g. Dry-cured beef from the Grisons PGI

For a protected geographical indication (PGI), it is sufficient if one of the manufacturing steps takes place in the area of origin and the quality, appearance or another characteristic of the product is essentially due to this geographical origin.

  • Protected Designations of Origin (PDOs), e.g. Berner Alpkäse PDO and Berner Hobelkäse PDO

For a protected designation of origin (PDO), the link between the characteristics of the product and its production in the place of origin must be very particularly strong, i.e. all manufacturing steps must take place in the area in question.


PGIs und PDOs are specially protected quality signs that are entered in a register. If a name is protected, it may only be used by producers who are from the defined geographical area and who meet the requirements of a detailed product specification. This prevents unfair competition and protects consumers from being misled.


Non-agricultural Products are registered with the IPI and agricultural products are registered with the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).


Protected designations of origin (PDOs) and protected geographical indications (PGIs) entered in a federal register, wine designations protected at cantonal level (e.g. “Epesses” in the canton of Vaud) and geographical indications which are regulated in a Federal Council ordinance (e.g. watches), may also be registered as geographical marks. This simplifies enforcing protection of the designations both in Switzerland and abroad.