Region: Switzerland

Federal Supreme Court: famous marks always benefit from enhanced protection

In a case involving the mark VOGUE, the Federal Supreme Court has confirmed that famous marks benefit from enhanced protection. The lower court had erred in finding that the principle of specialty applies to descriptive marks, even if they are famous. Interestingly, the decision could serve as a basis for the argument that a low recognition rate among the public can be outweighed by the fact that the brand at issue is associated with an image of high quality.

24 October 2012

Federal Court ends fight over shape of Lego toy brick

The Swiss Federal Court has upheld a decision of the Commercial Court of Zurich in which the latter had declared, following a time-consuming and extremely costly evidentiary procedure, that the 3D mark for the shape of the Lego toy brick was invalid. The decisive question in this case was whether the shape of the toy brick was technically necessary.

02 October 2012

IGE clarifies practice regarding prefixes 'san' and 'sana' for pharmaceuticals

In two recent decisions, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property has clarified its practice regarding the prefixes 'san' and 'sana', which are commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry. The institute held that 'sana' was descriptive for health-related goods and services, but that ‘san’ was not. This practice stands in contrast to the case law of the Federal Administrative Court.

27 September 2012

'A piece of Switzerland' not protectable as a trademark for cheese

The Swiss Federal Administrative Court has held that the tagline '<i>Ein Stück Schweiz</i>' ('A piece of Switzerland') was highly laudatory and, therefore, could not be protected as a trademark. Among other things, the court found that the tagline would be understood as referring to a product that was part of Swiss cuisine, tradition, agriculture and eating habits.

02 August 2012

Nestlé suffers blow in yet another dispute over Nespresso capsules

The Federal Supreme Court has allowed an appeal by Ethical Coffee Company SA in a dispute over the sale of capsules compatible with Nestlé's Nespresso coffee machines. It revoked the decision of the Cantonal Court and sent the case back to it on procedural grounds. Interestingly, the court noted in <i>obiter dicta</i> that protecting an invention as a trademark undermines the limited scope of protection for inventions.

17 July 2012

‘Frankonia’ not merely a geographical indication

The Federal Administrative Court has allowed an appeal by Frankonia Handels GmbH & Co KG against a decision of the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property finding that the trademark FRANKONIA lacked distinctiveness because it was merely a geographical indication. The decision shows that, even if some associations with a certain country exist, the prevailing meaning of the mark could still make it distinctive.

03 July 2012

Shape of Lego toy brick held to be “technically necessary”

The Commercial Court of Zurich has issued its second decision on the merits in a case involving the registration of the Lego toy brick as a 3D mark. Following an extremely lengthy and costly evidentiary procedure, the court found that all of the 50 alternative shapes were more expensive to produce. The court concluded that the shape of the Lego toy brick was “technically necessary” and, therefore, the 3D mark was invalid.

15 June 2012

Supreme Court considers anti-suit injunctions based on coexistence agreements

The Supreme Court has issued its decision in a case involving a coexistence agreement between Swatch AG, the proprietor of the SWATCH mark, and TKS sa, the proprietor of the ICE-WATCH mark. TKS requested that Swatch be enjoined from filing oppositions against its ICE WATCH marks, but Swatch argued that this would amount to an anti-suit injunction in the sense of <i>Turner v Grovit</i>.

25 May 2012

More stumbling blocks for ACTA as Switzerland delays and Kroes expresses misgivings

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement has returned to the headlines, as Switzerland delays signing and a senior European Union politician openly doubts that it will be ratified. However, further scrutiny by signatories should not be seen as a sign of the agreement’s likely demise.

11 May 2012

Federal Administrative Court develops jurisprudence on opinion polls

The Swiss Federal Administrative Court has held that the trademark AUS DER REGION. FÜR DIE REGION. ('From the region. For the region.') belonged to the public domain and had not acquired distinctiveness through use pursuant to Article 2(a) of the Trademark Act. The court confirmed and further developed the jurisprudence established in its recent <i>OKTOBERFEST-BIER</i> decision with regard to opinion polls.

25 April 2012

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