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How do you get a trademark registration in Switzerland?
A trademark is of unprecedented importance for being able to offer goods and services in a distinctive way. Although trademark registration in Switzerland is a procedure that initially costs money and time, both pay for themselves in the long term. By opting for trademark registration, you ensure that the trademark is registered as your intellectual property. This is important to be able to protect you against third parties. Due to the multilingualism of the country, applications are always assessed on the basis of the three national languages (German, French and Italian) and English.
There are two different trademark registration procedures in Switzerland. The first concerns an application at national level. You submit it to the Swiss Federal Institute for Intellectual Property. In German this is called IGE, in French IPI. A certificate will only be sent to you digitally by the IPI. Switzerland is also one of the members of the Madrid Protocol, which means that an extension of international registration via this system is also possible. Keep in mind that Switzerland is not a member of the European Union and therefore a trademark registration in the country cannot be realized via the EUIPO.
Single and Combined Trademarks
A brand can consist of word elements, figurative elements or a combination of both. If you opt for the latter, it is important to know that use of your brand is limited to exactly this composition of elements. If you want to be able to use the word element or logo separately independently, you still need to submit an application for this element only. An application for a logo is always submitted in Switzerland without a color claim. If color is a distinctive part of the trademark, you must explicitly inform the verification body of this.
An overview of the registration procedure according to the IPI
Do you opt for the national trademark registration procedure in Switzerland? Then the IPI is the assessment body. The procedure from A to Z can be divided into six different stages:
- conducting a thorough investigation yourself before submitting the application
- online registration with the IPI via eTrademark or by post
- erification against the main requirements according to the IPI / IGE
- publication of your application on www.swissreg.ch and start of the objection period
- issue of the submission certificate
- formal and substantive assessment
After submitting your application, the IPI will start with the assessment. It is important to be aware that this body does not investigate the existence of identical or confusing similar brands. You are responsible for this yourself. The objection period that other parties can use in the fourth phase has a duration of three months.
The period of validity of a Swiss trademark registration
If you want to register a trademark in Switzerland, it is not immediately necessary to actually use the trademark actively. However, this must be the case within five years to avoid cancellation due to non-use. Use in Switzerland must be on a commercial scale. A registered trademark is valid for ten years in Switzerland. After that period, you apply for an extension, which is also valid for ten years.
You can extend endlessly. The application for extension can be submitted as early as twelve months before the end date of the current term. If you submit the request after the expiry of that date, a Grace Period will still apply for the first six months. This means that your request can still be honored, either at higher costs.
Reasons for denial of the application
When applying for market registration in Switzerland, there are a number of things to consider that prevent approval. These include:
- Trademarks that are too descriptive
- A trademark that is misleading because it does not match the characteristics of the goods or services you provide
- A trademark that goes against public policy or morality
- Trademarks not classified according to appropriate classifications
- Trademarks using Swiss sovereignty symbols
In Switzerland, you also have to deal with the Alcohol Act, which regulates the use of registered trademarks for spirits in advertising and prohibits the use of a distilled trademark on goods unrelated to it.
Application at international level
As mentioned before, you can also achieve trademark registration in Switzerland by submitting an application at an international level. Such applications are assessed by WIPO on the basis of the regulations of the Treaty of Madrid, which includes the Nice classification. The convention has been ratified by most European countries, China, Japan, Russia, Australia and the United States: 124 countries in total. However, this international agency does not check whether you are eligible for protection of your trademark. That is the task of the offices of the designated countries.