Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI): More than half a million trade marks in Switzerland
14.02.2019, Almost 17,000 trade marks were applied for at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) in 2018. As a result, there are now more than 500,000 trade marks in force for the first time in Switzerland. Registering a trade mark protects companies from free-riders, although trade marks are not the only thing that companies and private individuals can apply to register. This is also possible for designs. Most of the designs registered in 2018 were for the categories of watches and clocks, and furnishing.
Companies in Zurich apply to register the most trade marks
In 2018, the IPI received the most applications from the canton of Zurich (2824), followed by the canton of Vaud (1229) and the canton of Zug (1187). Anyone applying to register a trade mark has to decide under which class of goods and services it should be protected. The most popular classification is Class 35 (advertising and business management).
Use your trade mark
There were a total of 507,100 registered trade marks in Switzerland by the end of 2018. This figure also includes international registrations with protection extended to Switzerland under the Madrid Agreement. At the beginning of 2017, a new procedure was introduced that allows a trade mark to be cancelled on the grounds of non-use. The IPI received 51 requests for this procedure last year. If a trade mark remains unused for an uninterrupted period of five years, then third parties can request that the trade mark in question be cancelled. This means that the owner can then lose their trade mark. It is much more common, however, for the trade mark owner to request its cancellation, or to decide not to renew it.
Why protect a trade mark?
Trade marks are an essential distinguishing feature for goods and services. Companies often invest a lot of time and money in developing and managing them, which therefore makes them valuable capital. A trade mark enables companies to stand out from their competitors. When they register a trade mark, the product is marked as intellectual property and as such is protected from free-riders.
Clocks, watches and furnishing at the forefront of registered designs
At the IPI, not only is it possible to apply to register trade marks, but also designs. A design right protects the shape and external appearance of an object. Last year, 704 designs were registered for protection. Most registrations were for the categories of 'clocks and watches and other measuring instruments', 'furnishing' and 'packaging'. Currently, there are 30,000 design products protected in Switzerland.
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