How do I register a trademark in Switzerland?

How do I register a trademark in Switzerland?

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How do I register a trademark in Switzerland?

Register a trademark in Switzerland in 5 steps

Registering a trademark has many advantages, but the procedure is also strictly regulated and comes at a price.

In this article, we'll give you all the information you need to register your trademark in Switzerland.

Brand definition and benefits

The question "What is a trademark?" may seem easy to answer, but it needs to be considered.

The purpose of a trademark is, above all, to set you apart, to differentiate your company's products and services from those of others. It also adds value to your company.

A trademark can take many forms, be it a word (Facebook, Kodak), an image (Mastercard, Apple) or a combination of the two (Pepsi, Rolex).

Any person or company based in Switzerland can register a trademark in Switzerland. However, if you or your company are not based in Switzerland, you will need to appoint an agent who is.

Step 1: Define the protection

You will also need to define what you wish to protect with your trademark application.

According to the DEFR (Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research), you can only protect the products and services detailed in your application. You will therefore need to define for which products you will use your trademark. 

Keep in mind the future of your brand, because once it's registered, you won't be able to change the protected elements.

Registering your trademark will enable you to protect it and prevent anyone other than you from offering similar or identical services under a brand name that could be confused with yours, even if the brand does not have exactly the same name or logo. For example, it protects against counterfeiting and trademark infringement in general.

This protection can be renewed indefinitely, but is only valid in Switzerland, unless you apply in other countries.

Example

You are the owner of the "Smeg" brand, specializing in the sale of household appliances, and you have protected these specific products and services. You discover that a brand under the name "Sneg" has filed a trademark application to sell the same kind of products.

You will then have the right to prohibit this brand from operating, since it will be considered trademark infringement because of the misleading nature.

However, if the brand sells cosmetics and has nothing to do with household appliances, you'll probably have no recourse. 

This is, of course, a case-by-case decision, as trademark infringement instances can be very hard to prove.

Step 2: Research

As detailed above, your brand should not be too similar to another trademark that is already registered. To be sure of this, you'll need to carry out a formal search, which will enable you to see if your trademark or brand already exists in a similar form.

But how do you know if a trademark has already been registered?

In this case, you will need to contact the IPI brand database (Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property), which lists not only all registered Swiss trademarks, but also all trademark applications.

Calling in a professional

We recommend the use of a professional for this type of research, as it can be long and complex.

If you want to register a trademark, you cannot simply look up the name of the brand in the register.

You'll also need to search for all its different variations in terms of spelling, meaning and sound, as well as the categories under which these trademarks have been registered, which can make this search complicated without prior knowledge of trademark law.

How do I register a trademark in Switzerland?

Step 3: Submitting the application

While you don't necessarily need a professional to carry out this research, it is compulsory to use an a professional (such as a lawyer) for your application.

Filing can be done entirely online via a form sent to the IPI.

Step 4: Examination of trademarks by the IPI

Once you have submitted your form, the IPI will examine your application first, but will not check that you comply with trademark law; that would be your responsibility.

During this examination, the IPI will check, among other things, whether your trademark meets certain criteria. Your trademark will be automatically refused by the IPI if:

Secondly, the IPI will publish your trademark. Everyone can then check that it does not compromise their own brand.

Step 5: Trademark registration

If the IPI accepts your application and no other brand opposes it, then your trademark can be registered.

If there are no objections, the whole process should take about four months.

Costs

When you register your trademark, you must pay a fee of CHF 450. Your trademark will then be protected for an renewable period of ten years.  

You will also need to take into account the different professionals' fees as part of your application.

Conclusion

As we've detailed throughout this article, registering a trademark is a considerable amount of work and money, but it can yield many advantages for your brand image.

Frequently Asked Questions

Any person or company based in Switzerland can apply for a deposit.

However, if you or your company are not based in Switzerland, you will need to use a Swiss professional who is.

You will need to send your request to the IPI, using a form.

It is imperative that you use the services of a professional for your application.

You will need to check that your brand idea (name, logo, class) does not already exist in an identical or similar form.

For this, it is encouraged to call in a professional, as this search requires in-depth knowledge of trademark law.

Yes, once your trademark has been registered, it is protected for ten years. At the end of this period, you can renew your protection indefinitely.

If you encounter no refusal or opposition, it will take about four months to register your trademark.