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Managing Swissness in Switzerland and Internationally

Legal Counsel
May 14, 2019 | Legal News

What is Swissness?

Swissness is a marketing strategy in which manufacturers indicate that their products originate in Switzerland. Switzerland is associated with trustworthy products. The Swiss standards stand for premium international quality and reliability in their products and services.

Swissness is highly misused. It is popular both within the Swiss borders and internationally. People and cooperatives use the Swiss coat of arms, the Swiss Cross and the Made in Switzerland label to free ride on the premium reputation of Switzerland.

The Swiss authorities in most cases have not consented to the use of these indications. On the contrary, both the authorities and the Swiss community have a common goal of promoting the acceptance of the Swiss brand on local and international levels.

Crossing the line?

The Swiss Federal Intellectual Property Institute (IPI) is geared towards combating Swissness and it has implemented measures to combat Swissness. These measures have borne fruit. The IPI had no criminal proceedings to instigate in 2018. However, 78 companies appeared on IPI's radar. These companies were involved incursions such as using Swiss cross on import products without the legal authorization.

However, these companies were quick to adhere to the law and altered the origin indication. Only cooperative companies were involved in these infringements. The IPI did not have the need to pursue aggressive methods of dealing with the issues. If it came to using aggression, the Swiss Law allows IPI to use criminal persecution, to employ civil actions or even working with customs authorities to seize the products.

The Swiss law advocates for using rational and constructive methods before approaching the more aggressive ones. The authorities allowed the cooperatives to repackage their products and proceed with the sales.

Managing Swissness Abroad

The measures the IPI employed on local soil lack jurisdiction in other countries. The Swiss embassies cooperate with the IPI to monitor international trade registers. They monitor companies' trademark or products for wrongful use any of the indications such as the Swiss designation and/or the Swiss Cross.

Once the IPI identifies any infringement, it can file an objection with the respective trade associations. The associations will respond opposing the registration of the trademark or sale of the products. Such cases have happened in numerous countries. A good example is India. In 2017 and 2018, the IPI came across 59 and 85 company cases respectively. The cooperatives in subject were using Swiss origin indications without authorization.

A unique example is China. China and Switzerland hold annual bilateral talks in either Shanghai or Beijing. The Chinese authorities altered their practices concerning registration of trademarks. Their laws accommodated banning the illegal use of Swiss origin indications on trademarks.

If your cooperation in China uses these Swiss origin indications wrongfully, the Chinese authorities have the right to confiscate and destroy the products. As a result, the IPI has had lesser cases to deal with in China. In 2017, they had 69 cases and 34 in 2018.

Pulling the Strings

The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) protects creations, inventions, trademarks, patents, copyrights, other intellectual property and geographical indications of companies and individuals.

On top of protection of intellectual property, the IPI represents Switzerland in international, prepares legislations and organizations and other countries advises the federal authorities.



Source: https://www.admin.ch/gov/en/start/documentation/me...

Legal disclaimer. This article does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The article should be used for informational purposes only.
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