Knowledge

From Brand to Unique Trademark in Switzerland

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A unique trademark helps consumers identify and buy a product or service due to its nature and its qualities. A trademark provides protection to the owner by assuring him the exclusive right to use it, to designate products and services or to authorize a third party to use it for a payment. If you want to open a company in Switzerland, you should know that the trademark protection period is 10 years and can be renewed many times.

Regarding the uniqueness of a trademark, the Swiss legislation allows words, symbols, logos, or other elements that identifies and differentiates the products or service providers from those of others.

Unique trademarks encourage initiative and entrepreneurial spirit around the world, giving brand owners recognition and financial profit.

Trademark registration in Switzerland 

A registered trademark allows the businessmen to protect its own brand elements from other competitors in the market. Protecting your trademark is practically securing the investment made in your brand, and here we refer both to financial resources and especially to the time invested and knowledge.

Trademarks in Switzerland are registered at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, the institution responsible for giving comercial property rights (patents, trade marks and designs). Throught registration, the brands are protected by the Federal Act on the Protection of Trade Marks.

Since Switzerland is not in the EU, is not subject to European laws; however, entrepreneurs should know that the state applies a similar legal system for the protection and registration of trademarks as the one available in the EU. Our specialists can advice you about trade mark protection abroad and the best filing strategy.

The most important characteristic of a unique trademark

Distinctiveness leads to the fulfillment of the most important characteristic of a unique trademark, the ability to distinguish the products and services of a manufacturer from another.

In order to create a distinctive trademark, entrepreneurs who want to start a business on the Swiss market must know several requirements.

For example, a word mark consisting of a single character, for example the letter "A", is considered to be devoid of distinctive character because the relevant public can not associate a company with a particular product or service by a simple character. Although, when a company wishes to identify with a single character, it is necessary to add a figurative element (logo). For example, registered trademark "f" owned by Facebook. Moreover, a figurative element that does not contain verbal elements is distinctive, if is used to fulfill the primary function of a mark. For example, the figurative mark owned by Apple. Since a simple figurative element can be considered distinctive, combining it with any number or characters to form a mark will also be considered distinctive.

A common word or formula commonly found or already used by another product or service in the same industry will not be able to be registered. The more generic the name is, the harder it will be to register. Not the same rule applies when we choose a generic name, but in a different industry than the one in which we want to operate, a good example is the Apple brand for IT category. In addition, in commercial activity, we come across with various expressions or formulations used to facilitate the sale of products or to contract certain services. Since these formulations are used simultaneously by many businesses, are becoming commonplace. Therefore, the registration of such phrases will not be allowed.

A mark should not contain descriptive terms. For example, the “Sweet” brand is very likely to be rejected as a descriptive brand of chocolate. It is considered incorrect to give only one exclusive chocolate maker the word "sweet" to market their products. Also, laudatory or qualifying terms as “fast”, “best”, “classic”, “inventive”, are likely to raise similar objections unless they are part of an otherwise distinctive brand. A non-exclusivity statement is usually included for that part of the mark for which exclusivity is not desired.

We mention that these requirements are applicable for all the three national languages available in Switzerland and it also includes the English descriptive language.

How do you know if the brand you choose could come into conflict with other trademarks?                            

Research, then register

Before submitting an application for registration of a trademark, you should make sure that it was done an appropriate brand documentary research. It is difficult to establish with precision that the brand you choose is not similar with existing, valid registered trademarks. Therefore, it may be helpful to receive more details from our trade mark consultants who can advise you on creating a unique one.

Documentary research is a procedure that basically allows you to find out if the sign you chose to identify and differentiate goods and services on the market is already protected as a trademark by another competitor.

An identical or similar sign does not necessarily mean that you can not register it, as brands are not strictly protected, only in relation to certain goods and services. That’s why, when registering a trademark in Switzerland, you have to specify the goods and services for which you want to register.

If there is already granted or required protection for your desired sign (or similar), we will help you identify the chances of succeeding to become the owner of that trademark for identical or similar services/products.

Secondary, the research is used very often to identify potential third-party "abuses", trademark claims, or registrations similar to yours. They can be later notified or you can act in court to eliminate the confusion created on the market for identical or similar products and services.

Therefore, the more different your brand is from others in the industry, the easier it will be to register and protect it. Choose a unique name and logo that can easily differentiate your business from competitors.

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