SWISS BUSINESS HUB lacks distinctiveness


The Federal Commission of Appeal for Intellectual Property (IP) Rights has upheld a Swiss Federal Institute of IP Rights decision to refuse registration of the trademark SWISS BUSINESS HUB for, among other things, advertising in Class 35 of the Nice Classification, services of a press agency in the field of telecommunications in Class 38 and organization of events in Class 41 (Case MA-AA 32/02).

The commission held that an invented word combination can be in the public domain if it is commonly understandable and was created in line with the standard rules of grammar. In general, English words can be part of the public domain in Switzerland if consumers can understand them easily. The commission reasoned that the services set out in the application were aimed at people at a management level in export-oriented businesses. It held that the relevant consumers would, therefore, be expected to have good English language skills and would understand the meaning of the word combination 'business hub' as 'business centre'. Thus, the mark SWISS BUSINESS HUB directly described the place where the designated services would be provided.

Accordingly, the commission concluded that the mark lacked the required distinctiveness for registration as there was no evidence of secondary meaning.

Markus R Frick, Walder Wyss & Partners, Zurich

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