Switzerland

Switzerland’s commitment to fostering a favourable environment for rights holders and entrepreneurs have secured it pole position in WIPO’s Global Innovation Index. The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) has played a key role here by continually refining its operations, with enhanced online functionality due to come onstream in the coming months. On the prosecution front, geographical indications and appellations of origin are a hot topic of discussion: while local producers are keen to avail of these protections, the IPI is notably cautious in its approach to registering marks that denote a country or physical location – a reality that must be taken into consideration when undertaking filings. On the enforcement side, practitioners have noted an uptick in the roll-out of new online brand protection initiatives and strategies, in response to the growing number of counterfeits finding their way onto e-commerce platforms.

Firms: enforcement and litigation

Firms: prosecution and strategy

Baker McKenzie

As the only global firm in the WTR 1000 Switzerland rankings, Baker McKenzie enjoys a unique position on the local legal market. With abundant resources and cutting-edge support systems, it has built up an enviable roster of domestic clients and has established itself as the go-to for international brands requiring comprehensive trademark protection. Division captain and master strategist Eva-Maria Strobel recently helped pharmaceutical giant Abbott to register its ACARE mark after two years of back-and-forth with the IPI. She also packs a hefty punch in litigation, as reflected in a win for Otto Group in a widely publicised case concerning the coexistence of two similar name marks in the fashion and e-commerce industry. She was joined on this brief by Michael Treis, a versatile practitioner who has also successfully prosecuted several iconic marks for Apple of late. “They are commercially minded and excellent lawyers who show great resilience and skill in overcoming hurdles.”

BianchiSchwald LLC

“BianchiSchwald delivers on all counts. The team is always on time, extremely responsive and stays true to their word, even when it comes to costs. Their advice is concise, precise and has just the right level of detail – you can literally take their memos directly to your internal stakeholders,” enthuses one patron. The full-service outfit has one of the most potent IP departments in the country, due in large part to spearhead and “outstanding lawyer” Christoph Gasser, who also sits as a non-permanent judge at the Federal Patent Court. “There is no one who can do trademarks quite like Christoph – he is charismatic, proactive and an inspiration to all. His immense expertise in procedural law, exemplary strategic skills and impressive economic foresight guarantee the best possible outcomes for clients.” “His business-oriented approach and ability to see beyond the bounds of the legalities of a case are really impressive. It is a real privilege to enjoy such a confident, effective and encouraging service.” Of late, Gasser has been managing the worldwide portfolio of motorcycle manufacturer KTM, which includes both national and international registrations; and assisting railway operator Jungfraubahnen with the creation of its new logo and the implementation of strategies around it. “He is extremely well connected and if there is ever a branding issue that needs solving, Christoph is the man for the job.”

E Blum & Co AG

Perfectly balanced on both the strategic and contentious sides, E Blum & Co has been providing a superior trademark service for over 140 years. The ensemble is best known for its prosecution capabilities, where it works with efficiency and sensitivity to budgets; while deep experience at partner level ensures that quality is maintained across the board. Mathias Meyer, Brendan Bolli and Sven Capol form the backbone of the practice. “Super-knowledgeable and detail-oriented”, Meyer supplies holistic counsel in abundance; while Bolli is the resident oppositions and nullity proceedings ace. One of Capol’s strong suits is his ability to foresee potential infringements and clashes, which shines through in his strategically tailored brand protection plans.

FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners

“One of Switzerland’s best”, FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners enjoys an elevated position thanks to its vibrant prosecution practice – it consistently ranks among the country’s most prolific filers – and squad of “undeniably incredible litigators”. Patrons can also rest assured that their files will never change hands, resulting in long-lasting relationships built on trust and understanding. A doyen of Swiss trademark law, Eugen Marbach knocks it out of the park on all instructions; his profound wisdom has often led to his argumentations being cited by the courts. Driving forces Peter Widmer and Bernard Volken are prominent market figures who regularly handle exceptional volumes of work. Artfully blending the theoretical with the practical, Widmer “is a brilliant and bright litigator who is always a pleasure to have on the other side”. Volken deftly traverses the contentious/non-contentious divide: “Amazing at prosecution and an outstanding and hands-on lawyer, he is great at finding solutions and gets the deal done. To top it off, he is well-connected and super-friendly too.”

Homburger

Intellectual property is a central pillar at “first-class and widely respected” commercial outfit Homburger. Within this discipline, the trademark group distinguishes itself through its percipient take on cross-border disputes and parallel import proceedings, as well as its impeccable transactional abilities. Its services are enlisted by a long list of marquee clients, including Volkswagen, which relies on Gregor Bühler to handle enforcement matters quickly and discreetly. His fine-grained understanding of regulatory issues attracts a steady stream of instructions from heavy hitters in the life sciences industry too. Team captain Georg Rauber acquits himself with distinction in technology-related disputes, while his silky negotiation skills have seen many an IP-rich deal inked.

House Attorneys

Nimble Geneva-based boutique House Attorneys has a lot to offer the luxury brands that turn to it for 360-degree trademark protection. Its savvy practitioners are well versed in tax law too and understand the pressures faced by in-house counsel, as well as what they look for in their guidance, resulting in a made-to-measure service that gets to the heart of business. Epitomising this is personable co-founder Frédéric Serra, whose shrewd counsel is sought out by the likes of Bentley, to name but one. The tenacious litigator dreams up creative strategies to branding headaches and is not afraid to use everything in his toolbox to arrive at budget-friendly solutions. Worth noting is the quality of colleague and rising star Melina Haralabopoulos, who is definitely one to watch.

Isler & Pedrazzini AG

Isler & Pedrazzini covers all bases for those looking to protect, commercialise and enforce their trademark rights. The unit conducts scrupulously thorough clearance checks and lays down solid foundations for brands that can withstand the test of time. It has also cultivated a vast network of foreign associates to assist with registrations and launches in far-flung jurisdictions, while continuously investing in its IT infrastructure to ensure that large-scale portfolios are managed without a hitch. The architect of this sophisticated offering is dextrous all-rounder Michael Degkwitz.

Junod, Muhlstein, Lévy & Puder

An “impressive and dynamic firm with superb language skills in the French region”, Junod, Muhlstein, Lévy & Puder is “an excellent choice”. The boutique keeps its structure lean and overheads low, so that patrons can enjoy a cost-effective, comprehensive service – a combination that has kept the likes of Louis Vuitton Malletier on board for years. Counsel of choice for luxury fashion and watch industry A-listers, Laurent Muhlstein “is responsive, diligent and a clear communicator who gets great results”. Fluent in English, German, Italian and Spanish, he relishes mandates with an international flavour. In IP, unfair competition and contract law disputes Michel Muhlstein stands out as a sharpshooting litigator with several game-changing decisions to his name.

Kasser Schlosser Attorneys at Law

With rainmaker Ralph Schlosser on board, Kasser Schlosser Avocats is a prime destination for the smooth resolution of commercially sensitive disputes. It has hammered out the wins in some exceptionally tricky matters – from multi-faceted trademark and unfair competition skirmishes to lawsuits involving non-conventional rights – in forums at every level. Its linguistic capabilities are a major boon: fluency in German and French means that it can operate in courts across the country. “Despite the unpredictability and complexity of a case, Ralph knows how to get good results. He is pragmatic, sharp and has profound knowledge of Swiss legislation and case law, which enables him to create bespoke enforcement strategies. One of his specialties is his ability to convert difficult legal scenarios into easily digestible facts and opinions that can be shared with top management.”

Lenz & Staehelin

The sheer depth of collective experience in Lenz & Staehelin’s IP group – encompassing all aspects and phases of brand protection across every industry imaginable – sets the firm apart from the pack. Peers also highlight its impressive contentious skillset: its litigators are familiar faces in Switzerland’s highest courts and often secure precedent-setting victories. Exemplifying these capabilities is Jürg Simon, who has recently been busy developing and registering Consorzio Emmentaler’s geographical indication marks. He recently ended a six-year long battle on its behalf in a combined competition, trademark and appellation of origin case, which resulted in a multi-million damages award. He also prosecutes for Apple and took to the Supreme Court this year to defend and enforce its marks, where his success led to a change in jurisprudence with regard to distinctiveness. Fellow practice chair and “spectacular litigator” Thierry Calame has a loyal following in the life sciences. His supplementary knowledge in patents and chemistry makes for perfectly well-rounded counsel. “One of the best and smartest lawyers in town, Lara Dorigo can provide great advice in a quick turnaround. It is extremely obvious that she has an impressive understanding of the law, as well as its procedural rules, which makes her a pleasure to work with or against.” She provides the gamut of services for Sky International along with WTR 1000 newcomer Barbara Abegg – “a highly promising and bright lawyer who can be counted on to do a great job”.

Meisser & Partners AG

Strategic sophistication is a hallmark of boutique Meisser & Partners. On the prosecution front, it really pushes the envelope with the filing plans it designs: for example, it has upped its focus on Asian markets, where it is starting to carve out a solid niche. This brings a valuable extra dimension to its non-contentious offering, as the side has already built up a solid reputation for all things ‘Swissness’. Meanwhile, on the contentious side, its anti-counterfeiting and customs measures work like a dream. Dynamic duo Marco Bundi and Benedikt Schmidt “are quick to react and easy to talk to and exchange ideas with. They deliver guidance that is legally sound while also readily applicable to real-life scenarios”. Of Schmidt, one client enthuses: “Responsive, knowledgeable and cost-effective, he is a trusted adviser who is a delight to work with.”

MLL Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Froriep Ltd 

“It is crystal clear: Meyerlustenberger Lachenal is a leading IP firm and its lawyers are simply brilliant,” reports one peer. The reviews from patrons are equally effusive: “Its high-quality services are accompanied by legal analyses that always consider business realities in a clear, concise and comprehensible manner. The service is of great value to in-house counsel and has an excellent and unbeaten cost-benefit ratio.” The group registers colour marks and geographical indications for the likes of Lindt & Sprüngli; gets 3D rights on the register for Birkenstock; manages portfolios for fashion house MCM; and takes down infringers for Porsche. Taking the lead on all four is Peter Schramm, who “always advises pragmatically and plays a global strategic role across all his mandates”. He frequently links up with division spearhead Michael Ritscher; together, the pair manage designer furniture company Vitra’s global dossier and tackle disputes as they crop up. “Among the most well-known practitioners in Europe, they have a deep understanding of the law and longstanding experience in coordinating multi-jurisdictional litigation. Michael in particular is one of Switzerland’s leading lights.” For fine wine producer Provins, Guillaume Fournier oversees its portfolio, devises strategies and assists with brand launches, as well as ensuring that its conflict levels stay at zero. “He is extremely reactive and constructive in his advice, and his analysis is always practical and of great value. He cultivates a pleasant working relationship too.” Completing the squad, the versatile Simon Holzer is a point of reference on all things Swiss and a life sciences guru – both topics on which he publishes and speaks widely.

Novagraaf 

Making its debut in the WTR 1000 this year, Novagraaf “provides world-class services across prosecution, enforcement and commercialisation. Well attuned to business concerns, it offers practical but highly strategic advice at a competitive price point”. In the words of one client: “Thanks to its impressive skillset and determination, we are expanding our trademark rights all over the world. It is wonderful to see that our partner consistently drives its own digitalisation and innovation forward, all while keeping our trademark protection at the centre of the discussion.” The international patent and trademark consultancy group has specialised in the global protection of intangible assets for over a century; today, the leading lights are Chantal Koller and Anca Draganescu-Pinawin. “Chantal readily gets to grips with the organisational structure of the brands she assists and tailors her advice to suit. She puts heart and soul into every project to offer clients a personal yet professional experience.” Draganescu-Pinawin’s “recommendations are clear and to the point, which makes decision making a lot easier. She also stays up to date on developments in the digital realm, which is a massive advantage”.

Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law

At full-service Pestalozzi, the IP practitioners work hand in glove with their corporate and M&A colleagues to provide wall-to-wall trademark support from bases in Zurich and Geneva. Clients can tap into the deep knowledge base of its 150-plus lawyers and an extensive network of foreign associates for instructions that require extra firepower around the world. Holding down the fort are Thomas Legler and Michèle Burnier. An internationally renowned arbitrator and litigator, Legler has a granular understanding of the telecommunications and media industries, with domain names a particular forte. Sophisticated litigation and licensing agreements are the metier of Burnier: “She is quick to understand individual business needs and the different urgency levels required in addressing each one. Her advice is pragmatic, straightforward and includes all the latest legal updates. She is utterly reliable and her energy and powers of conviction all contribute to a superb success rate.”

RENTSCH PARTNER Ltd 

“The exceptional branding know-how and industry knowledge at Rentsch Partner give it an edge over its rivals. The team skilfully handles an impressive amount of work, replies speedily and keeps track of deadlines, while following up both before and after, so that clients have time to prepare things at their end too. You can place your full trust in them.” The boutique’s 26 hardcore specialists have an affinity for disruptive technologies and operate at the confluence of technology and intellectual property. A star-studded line-up comprises Gregor Wild, Matthias Städeli, Christian Hilti, Demian Stauber and Magda Streuli-Youssef. Helmsman Wild “has a well-structured approach to his work and a clear communication style. His explanations are backed with factual evidence and other useful pieces of information, without being too overwhelming. Gregor readily makes himself available to answer any questions, and is quick to provide feedback and explain timelines to keep everything on track”. The development and management of intangible assets come naturally to Städeli, who can enhance a portfolio as easily as he can protect it in court. Litigators Hilti and Stauber combine together in a killer one-two punch; their CVs are replete with accomplishments and landscape-shifting verdicts. Streuli-Youssef “impresses with her expertise and tenacity. A brilliant lawyer, hard worker and strong fighter who is always in control of her files, she embraces other perspectives and does not shy away from taking on massive volumes of evidence to create the optimum strategy. All of this is condensed into crisp, structured arguments with great flow. It is a wonderful experience to work with a subject-matter expert of this calibre”.

Schellenberg Wittmer

Sophisticated counsel that gets right down to business without fuss or flashy add-ons is the calling card of Schellenberg Wittmer. The commercial outfit regularly steps in to fight infringement fires and get IP-rich deals across the line for high-flyers in the consumer goods sector. One of its most loyal patrons is Philip Morris International, which relies on Philipp Groz in customs and enforcement scenarios. The dextrous attorney also recently closed a transaction worth millions for SIX, a leading European actor in the payments and transactional services industry. Schellenberg Wittmer made headlines in late 2020 when it signed on Pestalozzi’s Lorenza Ferrari Hofer. “Skilled, reliable and outstanding”, the new partner will help Groz to build up the IP division while maintaining her broad and vibrant practice.

sigma legal

“All communications and meetings with sigma legal are excellent, efficient and reliable. The firm’s lawyers are highly specialised, reactive and pragmatic. Overall, it’s always a great experience to work with them.” The Geneva-based boutique is as innovative and dynamic as they come, with a focus on technology-driven industries and a soft spot for the needs of non-governmental organisations and start-ups. Co-heads Stéphanie Chuffart-Finsterwald and Alain Alberini adroitly navigate the trademark spectrum between them. “A first-class lawyer who exemplifies utmost professionalism, Stéphanie consistently provides top-quality advice. She provides thorough analyses which consider different judicial systems and can act quickly on complex issues. She is creative, talented and deeply committed to her clients – all of which makes her stand out.” Alberini relishes the challenge of protecting software: “He is super-thorough, has a fresh outlook on intellectual property and always bears the latest industry trends in mind. Alain is easy-going and discussions with him are always a pleasure.”

TIMES Attorneys

For complex cases with numerous different strands that demand hands-on partner attention, TIMES Attorneys is the one to call. Resolutely focused on intellectual property, the ensemble has the wherewithal and the contentious chops to cater to a brand owner’s every need. Key clients include Teva Pharmaceuticals, UEFA and Lacoste – names that attest to its strength and quality. Founder Michael Noth “is always modest and never goes for the frills. He is exceptionally bright and when he shows up in court, it is best to come prepared for a tough but fair fight”. Another dispute resolution ace, Andrea Mondini is a repository of trust for titans such as Google and Giorgio Armani. “An intelligent, thorough and strategic thinker, his advice always proves to be 100% correct and the results he obtains are fantastic, without exception. Not only is Andrea a great team player, he is one of the best attorneys in the country.” “The name to note for prosecution instructions” is Markus Kaiser: “An outstanding and exceptionally good lawyer, he finds creative and effective ways to approach any matter, while maintaining great attention to detail.”

Troller Hitz Troller

Troller Hitz Troller’s facility for trademark, copyright, competition, contract and business law makes it a persuasive one-stop shop in Zurich. The highly specialised boutique has been perfecting its A-to-Z service since 1941 and has all the tools needed to help companies build and maintain distinctive brand identities on the market. Its success is due in no small part to the hard graft of Patrick Troller, who comes commended by peers as “a phenomenal opponent”; his revered standing in the IP community is abundantly clear. Gallus Joller is a veritable Swiss army knife of a practitioner: there is nothing he cannot handle, from global portfolio management to tricky Swissness questions and demanding contentious matters.

Walder Wyss

“The commitment, level of expertise and customer-centricity at Walder Wyss are striking. Its trademark group has an efficient work ethic, and its accuracy and the strategies it implements are most impressive. They provide the right kind of support, which allows in-house lawyers to efficiently handle their case files too.” The storied outfit handles some of the toughest briefs around: for example, department lead Markus Frick prevailed for EasyGroup against local hosting provider Akenes in the country’s first trademark infringement case against a Swiss hosting provider. “The great thing about Markus is that he can be a fierce adversary, but he still stays level headed. He is a brilliant and persuasive litigator who goes after clients’ best interests.” Another all-rounder who is not afraid to break new ground, Roger Staub recently appeared in the Supreme Court on behalf of Merck Schweiz against Merck & Co as and other MSD group entities in a multidimensional case involving use of the sign MERCK on the Internet and in social media. “The first choice for litigation, he always finds that sweet spot when it comes to legal argumentation and how he tailors his pleadings. When combined with his sharp and analytical mind, this is a rare skill to have.” For technology transfers and complex outsourcing projects, Michael Isler capitalises on in-house experience at a global telecoms infrastructure and service provider to find optimal solutions. Joining the trio in the guide this year is Lugano-based Stefano Codoni. Cross-border litigation in the life sciences is his meat and drink, as illustrated by his staunch representation of Actial Farmaceutical in an international dispute.

Weinmann Zimmerli 

“From prosecuting marks to executing enforcement plans and sharpening protection strategies, as well as handling large-scale disputes and anti-counterfeiting mandates, Weinmann Zimmerli proves its immense legal knowledge in every aspect of its services. The team keeps an eye on clients’ business needs and potential opportunities, all while keeping costs in mind. It is really valuable to have a strong legal team you can count on.” In charge is Madeleine Schim van der Loeff, “a dynamic and energetic professional with an eye for detail. She is organised, committed and looks to generate new leads for the brands she assists. It is a sheer pleasure to work with such an exceptional attorney”. Joining her on the non-contentious side is the “calm and analytical” Stefan Keehnen: “He is flexible in his approach and provides useful guidance on both strategic and operative questions. Stefan is also really well connected and knows who to get in touch with on international matters.” The side’s deep bench of litigators includes Conrad Weinmann, Alban Shabani, Marco Handle and Fabian Wigger. “I cannot imagine a better legal partner by my side than Conrad,” enthuses one patron. “He is really thorough, creative and always comes up with commercially viable solutions that fit our expectations.” He and junior partner Shabani often link up on cross-border disputes. One source comments: “Alban quickly grasped our business model, understood our needs and immediately looked for ways to realise our goals. He is diligent, meticulous and great to discuss ambitions with.” The “super-responsive” Handle covers the full branding spectrum, but his forte lies in tactical litigation, where “the quality of his advice is outstanding”. Heading up the firm’s Zug operations, Wigger is a fresh face in the guide this year: “His level-headed and thoughtful approach allows him to persevere and solve strategically important cases accurately and brilliantly.”

Wild Schnyder AG

“A major player in prosecution with a significant market share”, Wild Schnyder secures and maintains robust protection for a host of local and international entities. No mere filing shop, it packs strategic value into every piece of advice it renders and has lately been developing its litigation and licensing offering too. Having spent over two decades at the IP coalface, Donald Schnyder knows exactly what will cut the mustard in critical cases and showcases his compelling advocacy skills before the civil and arbitral courts. The “solutions-oriented and pragmatic” Gabriela Taugwalder and Barbara Müller operate flawlessly on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious divide.

Other recommended experts

FRORIEP’s Nicola Benz capitalises on a razor-sharp understanding of intellectual assets to close brand-rich deals for technology heavyweights. At Niederer Kraft Frey, Nicolas Birkhäuser deploys granular knowledge of trademark and competition law to serve as sword and shield for clients; while colleague Clara-Ann Gordon has mastered the art of commercialisation. WTR 1000 debutante and trademark attorney Nathalie Denel “interprets even the most complex briefs, provides excellent reports and comes up with creative solutions in cases some may think are hopeless. Not only is she thorough, but she is great to work with and always willing to go the extra mile”. Lorenz Ehrler of VISCHER is discerning choice in the French region for business-savvy dispute resolution support. Over at Zulauf Partner, Robert Flury is a born-and-bred litigator, but he also prosecutes marks and manages portfolios with a steady hand. Recently moving from TIMES Attorneys to Wilhelm Gilliéron Avocats, Philippe Gilliéron is “an outstanding lawyer with a strong commercial sense. He excels in issues concerning legal technology and can translate complex issues into easily understandable content. Also, his relaxed personality and great sense of humour make him a pleasure to be around”. Adopting a “quick, direct and holistic approach” to trademark matters, BMG Avocats’ Anne-Virginie La Spada is a domain name expert who dazzles in court and gets lucrative transactions signed thanks to her smooth negotiation skills. A reliable contact at PYTHON, Felix Locher is accomplished across all phases of litigation and is always prepared to tackle every twist or turn that comes his way. TRADAMARCA is a superb destination for prosecution work of every shape and size, thanks to star quarterbacks Jérôme Pernet and Eric Rojas. Global sports and entertainment players seek out Pernet for his meticulous handling of portfolios; while Rojas’ language skills and unique insight from a stint at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property stand him in good stead when registering non-conventional marks. Transactional IP maven Markus Wang plies his trade at Bär & Karrer and adroitly shepherds critical deals across the line. At Probst Partner, Michael Widmer “comes recommended to the highest degree for his responsiveness, dynamism and thoroughness across all aspects of brand protection”.

Individuals: enforcement and litigation

Individuals: French region

  • Alain Alberini - sigma legal
  • Michèle Burnier - Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law
  • Stéphanie Chuffart-Finsterwald - sigma legal
  • Nathalie Denel - SEDIN SA
  • Anca Draganescu-Pinawin - Novagraaf 
  • Lorenz Ehrler - VISCHER
  • Philippe Gilliéron - Wilhelm Gilliéron Avocats
  • Chantal Koller - Novagraaf 
  • Anne-Virginie La Spada - BMG Avocats
  • Laurent Muhlstein - Junod, Muhlstein, Lévy & Puder
  • Jérôme Pernet - TRADAMARCA, Humphrey & Co
  • Eric Rojas - TRADAMARCA, Humphrey & Co
  • Ralph Schlosser - Kasser Schlosser Attorneys at Law
  • Frédéric Serra - HOUSE ATTORNEYS 

Individuals: prosecution and strategy

Individuals: transactions

  • Nicola Benz - FRORIEP
  • Nicolas Birkhäuser - Niederer Kraft Frey
  • Gregor Bühler - Homburger
  • Stefano Codoni - Walder Wyss Ltd
  • Lara Dorigo - Lenz & Staehelin
  • Lorenza Ferrari Hofer - Schellenberg Wittmer
  • Philipp Groz - Schellenberg Wittmer
  • Michael Isler - Walder Wyss Ltd 
  • Eva-Maria Strobel - Baker McKenzie
  • Michael Treis - Baker McKenzie
  • Markus Wang - Bär & Karrer
  • Gregor Wild - Rentsch Partner Ltd