Protected designations of origin and geographical indications registered in a federal register ("PDO/PGI", for example, "Gruyère" for cheese), wine designations recognised by the cantons (e.g. "Espesses" in the canton of Vaud) and indications of source that are the subject matter of a Federal Council ordinance (e.g. for watches) have been permitted registration as a trade mark since 1 January 2017. The geographical mark has been created to facilitate enforcing protection of these designations in Switzerland and abroad. The designation "EMMENTALER" for cheese with the protected designation of origin "Emmentaler" became the first geographical mark to be registered by the IPI (mark no. 703 183).
An application for registration must be filed with the IPI. The procedure presents many particularities, notably concerning the circle of people entitled to obtain and use a geographical mark. A regulation will specify the requirements concerning a geographical mark. Anyone who fulfils the necessary conditions may use it. The group entitled to use the geographical mark may, in return, forbid any person who does not comply with the regulations from using it.
The new regulations provide for the possibility of registering designations of origin and geographical indications as a geographical mark in a federal register (theoretically, "Valais Raclette" for cheese, for example). However, only a representative group may register a geographical mark. For example, the industry organisation "Interprofession of Gruyère" having obtained the ACO "Gruyère" could register the corresponding geographical mark. The rules of use for the geographical mark must correspond exactly to the product specification of the AOC. This requirement is as a result of the particular nature of the geographical mark, leaving the appellation of origin and the geographical indication freely available for all those fulfilling the conditions of use listed in the product specification.
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