Switzerland

The introduction of ‘Swissness’ legislation in 2017 continues to be surrounded by debate. Practitioners are called on to give guidance on the laws governing ‘Made in Switzerland’ products, however, they also eagerly await more case law to provide further clarity on its nuances. Also introduced in 2017, non-use cancellation actions at the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property are another hot topic. Practitioners have been able to put these to good use and have high praise for their efficiency and speed. In the service provider market competition is increasing between trademark prosecution shops, who are feeling price-pressures, and law firms, which are increasingly cultivating their non-contentious services.

Firms: enforcement and litigation

Firms: prosecution and strategy

Baker McKenzie 

The only firm of its kind on the Swiss trademark landscape, iconic global law behemoth Baker McKenzie attracts a slew of international clients with cross-border interests. It keeps a watchful eye over portfolios and carries out sophisticated enforcement instructions expertly. Leading the division with verve, Michael Treis is “goal-oriented and willing to go the extra mile to find a solution”. The versatile practitioner sticks to his guns when the going gets tough in the courtroom and is the adviser of choice for big-hitters such as Apple, Cisco, Dior and LVMH. Eva-Maria Strobel’s pragmatism and resolute focus on long-term commercial objectives make her an obvious choice in the non-contentious sphere. She creates and implements global brand protection policies with striking precision, but is equally adroit in cross-border disputes and is a member of both the German and Swiss bars.

Bär & Karrer

Headquartered in Zurich with an additional three branches in Geneva, Lugano and Zug, Bär & Karrer has a presence in every corner of the country. It nimbly assists multinationals in cross-border litigation proceedings but overseeing complex transactions is one of the things that the full-service law firm does best. IT and biotech matters are second nature to Markus Wang, who takes charge of the IP division and has an answer for every kind of branding question. Wang is also a contributor to the latest commentary on Swiss trademark law and a frequent lecturer at the University of Fribourg; he has the academic disposition to scrutinise documents, which results in perfectly confected asset-transfer agreements.

BianchiSchwald LLC

A force to be reckoned with, BianchiSchwald is “highly recommended to every entrepreneur doing business on an international scale” for its on-point filing capabilities and expert management of intricate litigation proceedings. The IP squad is “reliable, flexible, extremely precise and they get the job done with a personal touch, while keeping the prices fair and transparent”. Hard-hitting litigator Christoph Gasser is “willing to go the distance and is available for his clients 24/7”. The practice spearhead is “an entrepreneurial thinker who understands business structures and takes company policies into account when giving advice”, enthuses one patron. “His attention to detail is unparalleled. He provides prompt, detailed and thorough responses – you always get great service and an impeccable finished product.” His business-savvy guidance has recently been sought out by numerous top-dollar clients, including ZSC Lions. A shining star in Geneva and WTR 1000 debutant Stéphanie Chuffart-Finsterwald “takes a hands-on approach and gets to know her clients’ markets inside out”. Portfolio management and licensing deals are dealt with smoothly by Chuffart-Finsterwald, she is “always on top of matters, highly reactive and very punctual”.

E Blum & Co AG

Drawing on over 140 years of experience, E Blum & Co is a longstanding model of success. Although it is well-versed in conflicts between designation rights and domain names, its prosecution and filing service is a cut above the rest. “Excellent judgement and guidance” is supplied in abundance by Mathias Meyer. Armed with quadrilingual abilities and a thorough knowledge of competition law, he can navigate clients through the choppy waters of branding so that their rights are fully protected. Fellow partner Brendan Bolli is an all-rounder in the trademark team with a knack for opposition and nullity proceedings. Completing this talented trio is Sven Capol, who extracts maximum commercial value from licensing deals and supremely manages immense portfolios.

FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners

“FMP Fuhrer Marbach & Partners is without a question at the top of its game.” The commercial law firm has intellectual property at its core and “consistently offers professional advice and high-level counselling” at all stages of the trademark lifecycle. A “prominent” lecturer and part-time professor at the University of Bern, Eugen Marbach “is excellent both in theory and in practice”. He applies his vast knowledge to resolve baffling branding quandaries. Marbach never loses sight of the fact that all that clients really want is straightforward and commercially sound support. Another notable name is Bernard Volken. As one respondent lauds: “He is a go-to lawyer and outstanding hands-on practitioner, he is highly experienced in both prosecution and enforcement. He considers matters strategically before providing efficient, timely and to-the-point solutions.” The personable Peter Widmer completes the ternion of stars. The ardent litigator “has immense trademark knowledge and a great sense of humour, a combination that makes him a true pleasure to work with or even against”.

Homburger AG

“Homburger is a leading business law firm and an icon on the market.” Operating on both a domestic and international level, the ensemble handles complex cross-border disputes and parallel import proceedings with aplomb. The “resourceful and proactive” Gregor Bühler is “hands-on and always ready when you need him”. “He has a creative approach and is always pragmatic,” whether he is faced with an intricate infringement or is hammering out an asset transfer. Colleague Georg Rauber is an “absolutely brilliant” litigator who heads up the department. The seasoned practitioner deftly utilises his 30 years of experience to bring transactions to a successful conclusion.

House Attorneys

House Attorneys is making waves on the Swiss market and earns its debut in the WTR 1000 this year. The boutique law firm applies its branding knowledge within a commercial framework to offer complete brand support. As adviser to top-dollar clients such as Christian Louboutin, Ferring Pharmaceuticals and Nexus Automotive – the crew dishes out first-class guidance and omits legalese while establishing deep-rooted relationships with patrons. “Sophisticated litigator” Frédéric Serra is the man in charge. “He never loses sight of his clients’ interests” and judiciously applies the in-house expertise he gained at a leading enterprise in the luxury goods industry to “think outside the box in challenging disputes”.

Isler & Pedrazzini AG

“Isler & Pedrazzini is excellent.” The side really appreciates the uniqueness of its clients and is committed to safeguarding their brands through its impeccable prosecution service, which has been in full swing since 1910. Top dog Michael Degkwitz is renowned for his ability to find a solid strategic path in even the rockiest of terrains to ensure safe passage for rights holders. He is admitted to the bar in Germany which is an added bonus in cross-border troubles.

Junod, Muhlstein, Lévy & Puder

Junod, Muhlstein, Lévy & Puder is “an excellent address in the French region”. It deftly manoeuvres across all areas of brand protection but has carved out a niche in the luxury goods and watches sector with several hard hitters from the industry on its roster. Michel Muhlstein is a font of wisdom for the firm, he boasts nearly five decades of experience. An active member across 15 different legal associations, he has up-to-the-minute knowledge of the law and can answer the trickiest of questions at a moment’s notice. Another pillar of the practice, Laurent Muhlstein stands tall with his “profound knowledge base and fantastic language skills”. His “dynamic presence” was recently showcased at the Federal Administrative Court where he successfully protected MHCS and its brand.

Lenz & Staehelin

The full spectrum of brand protection services are on offer at cosmopolitan law firm Lenz & Staehelin. It knocks the ball out of the park when it comes to getting deals through and dives into the nitty gritty of each and every case without ever failing to keep an eye on the bigger picture. A compelling litigator, Jürg Simon is a “doyen of trademark law in Switzerland”. The former Swiss Intellectual Property Institute director is an undisputed leader in the region for his “profound knowledge in geographical indications”. Fellow practice co-pilot Thierry Calame brings in additional firepower with his knowledge of ancillary disciplines – such as unfair competition law – to sew up the tightest of licensing agreements. Completing the triumvirate, Lara Dorigo is “tenacious but even-handed in disputes and an absolute pleasure to work with”. The “highly skilled and hands-on lawyer is also excellent in arbitration proceedings” and has a particular penchant for solving technology-related puzzles.

Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd 

A favourite among blue-chip companies, Meyerlustenberger Lachenal is top of the league when it comes to multi-jurisdictional disputes. The cosmopolitan outfit has a team of 15 IP specialists who know all the ways to protect a brand. “We continue to turn to them without hesitation; they are highly pragmatic, with a great service attitude and their accuracy is second to none,” enthuses one patron. Non-traditional marks are no obstacle to the talented team – it recently registered a three-dimensional (3D) trademark on behalf of eos at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property and the Swiss Administrative Court. “A leading light of Swiss trademark law” Michael Ritscher spearheads the IP group. “He is an outstanding lawyer with a very commercial outlook.” Full of unique insight, Ritscher sits as a judge at the Court of Commerce of the Canton of Zurich which makes him a stand-out choice for bet-the-company litigation mandates. “Passionate about his cases, Peter Schramm is highly skilled and well-versed both in law and tactics. He is a great guy to work with and is extremely well connected. His strong suit is design law, in which he is one of the clear pioneers in Switzerland.” Co-heading the trademark and design group alongside Schramm is Guillaume Fournier, who is renowned for his “top-notch responsiveness”. The highly esteemed litigator always exceeds expectations, providing “sophisticated, highly effective and efficient counselling on all Swiss and EU trademark matters in a timely fashion”. Last but not least is the “delightful” Simon Holzer, who “executes geographical indication mandates with precision, and has the communication skills to convey his highly valued advice in a clear and meaningful way to lawyers across the pond”.

Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law Ltd

The IP troop at business law Pestalozzi Attorneys works shoulder to shoulder with colleagues in the commercial law department to provide holistic trademark support. The side is strong across the board but is especially proficient when it comes to online disputes. Most recently the team successfully defended a client against Swiss holiday resort Gstaad in a domain name dispute regarding geographical indications. Few individuals understand technology as well as Lorenza Ferrari Hofer who gracefully leads the IP and technology, media and telecoms group. A dual-qualified lawyer in Switzerland as well England and Wales, she is a top choice for cross-border instructions. Along with her encyclopaedic knowledge of media, advertising and entertainment law, she ensures every element of a licensing agreement is scrutinised. When tensions rise, Thomas Legler steps in to calm things down. He is sure-footed in turbulent disputes but is renowned for his finesse in international arbitration proceedings. Michèle Burnier holds down the fort in Geneva where she focuses on sophisticated litigation and licensing matters. She is “highly experienced at the EU level and is at the forefront of trademark law. Michele is efficient, extremely easy to work with and gets straight to the point.”

Rentsch Partner Ltd

Rentsch Partner dispenses an A-Z trademark service and stands ready to deploy its 23 specialists. The outfit has exceptional reach, with both a US arbitration desk and an outpost in Japan. It works in close cooperation with Swiss-based FRORIEP to ensure client prosecution needs are met from every angle. “The firm does not only act as legal counsel; its lawyers become your close allies and protect the most important aspect of your assets.” A “distinctive” professional in the field, Gregor Wild is “highly consistent and reliable in his work. He offers global and complete brand protection but really shines in complex litigation. Customer-minded and service-oriented, he devises different and interesting solutions to arrive at the best route for his clients. His precision, response rate and insights are unparalleled – He is really excellent to work with.” The “charming and highly experienced” Matthias Städeli has a 360-degree view on brand protection. “Thorough and proactive” Städeli applies his “sound knowledge and experience in the field” to emerge victorious before the courts and administrative bodies. A double-dyed enforcement expert, Christian Hilti can swat away any infringer but really packs a punch when faced with an unregistered signs dilemma. “Extremely smart, Demian Stauber is always on significant trademark cases.” As a lecturer on internet law at the University of Zurich, he knows his way around new technologies and the problems they throw up. In January 2019 the firm recruited “stateswoman of trademark law” Magda Streuli-Youssef. “In-depth knowledge of the material law and a passion to fight for her client’s cause are Magda’s key strengths. She has an incredible reputation with years of experience and is best-suited to advise on complex and difficult cases.”

Schellenberg Wittmer

Commercial law powerhouse Schellenberg Wittmer comes to the rescue when branding disputes arise and has a flair for facilitating IP rich deals in the consumer goods sector. The Zurich-based firm has an additional branch in Singapore, which makes it particularly appealing for clients seeking to protect their interests in the Far East, and has been recently acting on behalf of an Asian investment company. Taking the reins on this matter, Philipp Groz delivered sound advice on global trademark strategy and led the negotiations of a worldwide coexistence agreement. The practice spearhead dispenses “clear, concise, well-written and commercially relevant guidance” to the likes of Philip Morris International and is equally fleet-footed in the courtroom.

Swissberg Ltd

Swissberg operates like a well-oiled machine and is often lauded by clients and peers for its operational efficiency and tailor-made support. It delivers an all-encompassing trademark service that fosters brand growth through the creation, protection and exploitation of intangible assets. The “super-responsive” Christian Rohner doles out “concise advice” with confidence. Patrons can sleep soundly knowing their rights are duly protected both inside and outside the courtroom when they are in Rohner’s hands.

TIMES Attorneys

“TIMES Attorneys has outstanding practitioners and is by far the best law firm for all IP and technology matters in Switzerland.” Recently its full-service capabilities have been put to good use assisting Google in opposition proceedings. The side also has the ear of Alois Dallamayr, Lacoste, Teva Pharmaceuticals and UEFA. The leader of the pack is Michael Noth, he is a toughened litigator, “a superb practitioner, very approachable, immensely knowledgeable” and refuses to delegate from afar. Armed with 25 years of experience, Andrea Mondini is “a prominent player” in the team. “Quick on his feet and an astute thinker in all areas of brand protection,” litigation and contractual matters are where he really excels. “The impressive and skilled” Markus Kaiser is highly appreciated for his refreshing approach. He has a brilliant understanding of the legislation and provides detailed, prompt and thorough legal opinions – especially in complex cases.” Based in Lausanne, Philippe Gilliéron watches over the French operations of the unit. “He works rapidly, providing quick, pragmatic advice with a short turnaround. The more complicated an issue is, the more invested he gets. An active listener, he proposes reasonably priced and innovative options and is extremely interested in resolving issues to the best interest of his client. Philippe is the perfect lawyer with which to develop a mutually valuable long-term partnership.”

Troller Hitz Troller

Troller Hitz Troller is a “leading name on the landscape and has a great track record”. Since its establishment in 1941, the IP boutique has amassed a wealth of experience working across the contentious/non-contentious divide, especially in the luxury goods and watches industry. Founding member, Patrick Troller “has a longstanding practice and is extremely thorough – he is the sort of special lawyer you do not see every day”. He is an “outstanding” practitioner who is nimble in the courtroom and has mastered the art of worldwide filing requests. “Leading the new generation” of IP lawyers, Gallus Joller is “a practical team player and an astute thinker”. He is entrusted with global portfolio management and is a “go-to for great advice in substantial trademark disputes”. Luminary and former member of the Lucerne Bar Exam Commission, Martin Hitz has built up the practice to where it stands today.

Walder Wyss Ltd 

Storied IP practice Walder Wyss resolves branding disputes left, right and centre. The firm has six strategically located offices around the country, which are staffed by experts dedicated to the pursuit of client satisfaction – whether in winner-takes-all litigation or gruelling asset transfers. “A go-to attorney for all things trademark-related Markus R Frick is outstanding in his field.” Admitted to both the Zurich and New York bars, the head of the IP department is “a very safe pair of hands and he consistently shows exceptional levels of attentiveness and commercial awareness”. He is a “sharp and efficient negotiator” and has recently been advising several industry giants such as American Airlines, Microsoft and Novartis. Another “highly recommendable practitioner, Roger Staub is incredibly experienced in all forms of IP litigation. On top of that, he has a great network and is a pleasure to work with.” A favourite among luxury brands, Staub devises ironclad strategies for Montblanc Montres and Richemont.

Weinmann Zimmerli 

Offering up a comprehensive suite of services, the “reliable and top-notch” IP firm WEINMANN ZIMMERLI “understands the need for a personal touch and gives pragmatic advice that does not sit on the surface”. Madeleine Schim van der Loeff “does a fantastic job when it comes to transactions. She is really diligent, highly experienced and a delight to work with in prosecution matters.” Patrons consider “her perfect knowledge of Dutch, French, German and English to be a huge advantage”. She takes command of the unit alongside Conrad Weinmann who “gives optimal support to his clients”. He applies over 20 years of experience to ensure his international clientele leave the courtroom unscathed. The “ambitious” Alban Shabani is another enforcement ace who tackles the toughest of cross-border disputes with panache.

Wild Schnyder AG

“One of the best in Switzerland for non-contentious matters” Wild Schnyder is home to a tight-knit team of trademark experts. The side has been building up its dispute resolution offering, which has led to some stellar performances this year on behalf of internationally renowned clients. There is nothing that head honcho Donald Schnyder cannot handle. Not only is he a “prosecution guru”, he also has more than two decades of experience in multinational proceedings at both the arbitral and civil courts under his belt. “Strategic thinker” Barbara Müller joins forces with the “excellent and responsive” Gabriela Taugwalder to stop infringers in their tracks. Together, the pair have the Midas touch when it comes to extracting commercial value from intangible assets.

Other recommended experts

Nicola Benz is FRORIEP’s “leading trademark and technology licensing lawyer”. She stands at the ready to utilise her razor-sharp understanding of intellectual assets in brand-rich deals. Utilising his knowledge of competition and IP law WTR 1000 newcomer Nicolas Birkhäuser assesses branding issues from all angles to come up with optimum solutions in tricky disputes. He practices his craft at Niederer Kraft & Frey. Marco Bundi “promptly and efficiently handles trademark applications and brings about successful conclusions to disputes” from his base at Meisser & Partners. Over at Bourgeois Avocats, Ivan Cherpillod has immense knowledge of trademarks as well as copyrights, which makes him a go-to for technology transfers. The Lausanne-based lawyer is always on top of developments through his involvement in academic circles. “A distinguished negotiator, Lorenz Ehrler is a leading name in the French-speaking area.” His talents have been snapped up by Bugnion Ballansat Ehrler, where he has been advising top-dogs in the watch industry on anti-counterfeiting strategy. Clients in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries keep Robert Flury on speed dial. The Zulauf Partners lawyer is a crack litigator who also knows his way around managing immense portfolios. Armed with granular knowledge of IP and IT law Clara-Ann Gordon of Niederer Kraft & Frey works day and night to leave no stone unturned in lucrative licensing deals. Online platforms are a happy hunting ground for the “extremely smart” domain-name guru Anne-Virginie La Spada. A reliable contact at BMG Avocats, she gets deals through in a flash and leaves peers starstruck in courtrooms. Felix Locher of Python is “experienced, reliable and proactive, he always takes legal, business and cultural diversity aspects into consideration when dealing with a case. Always on the lookout for pragmatic solutions, he is responsive and cost-efficient but also knows how to obtain an advantageous settlement agreement.” WTR 1000 debutants Jérôme Pernet and Eric Rojas are “fantastic prosecution specialists and highly recommended” counsel who work out of TRADAMARCA. Operating from Kasser Schlosser Avocats, “Ralph Schlosser is an outstanding litigator”. Highly praised for his “commercial mindset”, he frequently flexes his deep-rooted knowledge of 3D marks. “Setting the standard in client service, Benedikt Schmidt gives clear, precise instructions in prosecution matters and approaches issues with intelligence and care – all while being cost-conscious”. Schmidt plies his trade at Meisser & Partners. Recently moving from Swissberg to Probst Parter AG, Michael Widmer “is an intelligent, quick and effective advocate. A successful negotiator, he is equally adept at transactional and contentious matters and provides his services at a very reasonable price point.”

Individuals: enforcement and litigation

Individuals: French region

Individuals: prosecution and strategy

Luminaries

  • Martin F Hitz - Troller Hitz Troller