Trademark protection in Switzerland and abroad: protect your company name and trademark

In this blog, we explore the nature of intellectual property and its crucial role in the success of businesses. From patent protection to copyright and trademark law, we cover all aspects necessary to safeguard your creative achievements. Learn how trademarks protect start-ups from counterfeiting and how to effectively register and defend your intellectual property in Switzerland and beyond.

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  • Intellectual property protects creative achievements and innovations
  • Trademark protection preserves the identity and image of start-ups
  • Legal protection of a trademark requires registration with the IPI
  • Global trademark protection possible through WIPO and national offices
  • Actively recognize trademark infringements and take action against them


  • Trademark protection in Switzerland and abroad: protect your company name and trademark
  • Highlights & content
  • The protection of intellectual property
  • Trademark protection: The decisive advantage for your company
  • Trademark protection in Switzerland: A comprehensive guide
  • Global trademark registration: Protect your brand worldwide
  • Basics of trademark infringements: Recognition and handling
  • Commercial register vs. trademark protection: a crucial difference
  • Are you looking for support to move your company forward?

The protection of intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) comprises the legal rights that protect the outcomes of human creativity from unauthorized use by third parties. This legal framework enables authors to exercise control over their works and reclaim them in the event of unauthorized use. This transforms innovative ideas into valuable assets that can be traded, licensed or used in a variety of ways to bring benefit and recognition to the creators.

The most common forms of IP protection include:

  • Patent protection that secures new inventions, designs and processes,
  • Copyright law that protects original works in literature, art, music and other creative fields,
  • Brand protection that preserves the identity of a brand by protecting its names, colors, logos, slogans and other characteristic features.

Brand protection is particularly indispensable for start-ups, as it protects the identity and image of a company from imitation and is therefore a decisive factor for market success.

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Trademark protection: The decisive advantage for your company

Let us shed some light on the tangible benefits a trademark registration offers your company:

Building a corporate identity requires a considerable investment of time and resources, especially to gain recognition in the market. Once you have achieved a level of brand recognition, it is common for competitors to try to copy elements of your brand such as colors, names or even products.

The legal protection of your brand through a registered trademark is an effective tool to ward off such attempts at imitation. More importantly, by having the right to license or sell your brand, you can turn it into a monetary asset that has the potential to significantly increase your company’s sales.

What is considered a corporate brand?

A corporate brand symbolizes the uniqueness of your products and services, sets you apart from the competition and is the heart of your corporate identity.

There are different types of brands:

  • Individual brands shape the identity of individual companies and their offerings – for example “SWISSCOM”.
  • Collective marks identify the products or services offered by associations of manufacturing, trading and service companies, for example FLEUROP or COIFFEURSUISSE. This type of trademark can only be deposited by such associations, while natural persons as individuals cannot act as depositors.
  • Guarantee marks assure certain qualities or the origin of products and services. The owner must ensure that the products meet the specified standards. Anyone can register this trademark, but the owner must remain independent of the users of the trademark in order to avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Geographical trademarks generally require prior registration or must be documented by a designation of origin or geographical indication recognized in Switzerland or by an ordinance of the Federal Council, or alternatively by a comparable regulation from abroad.

Here are the most common brand types:

  • Word marks give meaning to words or numbers without color specifications, such as “Nexova” and stand purely for the name.
  • Figurative marks capture the essence of your brand in symbols or images without the need for words – think of the iconic Nike swoosh logo.
  • Word/figurative marks cleverly combine text elements with graphics or artistically designed fonts, whereby they can also incorporate specific color schemes. Rolex serves as an illustrative example.

In addition to those mentioned, there are many other types of trademarks that offer a wide range of options for marking and protecting intellectual property. These include acoustic marks that protect certain sounds or melodies, three-dimensional marks for the shape of products, color marks that protect a specific color or color combination, and other innovative types of marks that emphasize the unique character of a brand.

Every brand tells a story, your story, and serves as your ambassador in the world of business.

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Trademark protection in Switzerland: A comprehensive guide

Protecting intellectual property in Switzerland: your options

As a trademark owner, you are only guaranteed protection of your trademark in those countries in which it is officially registered. You can opt to apply for trademark protection only at the national level in Switzerland or internationally in order to fully protect your rights worldwide.

National protection by the Institute for Intellectual Property

The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) allows you to register your trademark with national protection in Switzerland. If you already have international property rights, you can extend them to Switzerland. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva is responsible for international registrations.

Registering your trademark in Switzerland

To ensure that your trademark is legally protected in Switzerland, it is registered via the IPI. Your trademark will also be registered in Swissreg, the official platform for the publication of Swiss patents, trademarks and designs.

Requirements for the protection of trademarks at the IPI

To be protectable as a trademark, signs must be graphically representable and clearly distinguish your products or services from those of the competition. They must meet the following requirements:

  • Uniqueness: Your trademark must not be exclusively descriptive and must not contain any direct information about characteristics such as properties, quality or price. Such general terms must remain freely available.
  • Authenticity: Your trademark must not be misleading with respect to the characteristics of the goods or services, particularly their origin and quality.
  • Legal conformity: Your brand must not violate applicable law, public order or morality and must not offend any moral, ethical or religious sensibilities.

The trademark is only registered if it meets all the above requirements, and the products and services are correctly classified. In multilingual Switzerland, registered signs are examined in all national languages as well as English.

Important to note: The application process does not check whether there is a likelihood of confusion with previously registered trademarks. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure through prior research that the trademark does not infringe any earlier property rights.

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Global trademark registration: Protect your brand worldwide

If you are planning to expand your business internationally, protecting your brand outside Switzerland is a crucial step. There are various ways in which you can protect your brand globally:

  • National Intellectual Property Offices: For specific countries, you can contact the respective Intellectual Property Office directly. It is often necessary to appoint a local representative to navigate the registration process abroad.
  • EU trademark registration with one application: To protect your trademark in the entire European Union, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in Alicante, Spain, offers the possibility of obtaining trademark protection in all EU member states with just one application.
  • The Madrid system: This international system, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), enables trademark applications in over 125 countries and regional organizations through a uniform procedure. The application can be submitted conveniently online via the IPI website.

By opting for one of the above trademark registration routes, you can easily ensure that your brand is protected beyond Swiss borders.

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Basics of trademark infringements: Recognition and handling

As the owner of a trademark, it is your responsibility to identify infringements of your trademark rights and to act against them by filing oppositions. Authorities only investigate trademark infringements on the basis of oppositions filed. The five most common forms of such infringements are outlined below:

  • Domain grabbing: The registration and use of Internet domains that contain a third-party brand name and thus cause consumer confusion.
  • Online exploitation: Exploiting brand names on online platforms by using them in meta tags or as keywords to drive traffic and increase sales or misuse intellectual property.
  • Product piracy: The production and distribution of counterfeit products under the name of well-known brands, often imitating their design.
  • Trademark similarity: Likelihood of confusion due to trademarks that are similar in appearance, spelling or sound to an already registered trademark.
  • Trademark misuse: The unauthorized use of a trademark in advertising or on packaging without permission to profit from the existing reputation of the trademark.

It is highly recommended to consult with an advisor specializing in trademark law in Switzerland to manage these risks effectively.

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Commercial register vs. trademark protection: a crucial difference

It is a common misconception that registering a company in the Swiss commercial register automatically grants trademark protection. However, this assumption often leads to confusion and inadequate trademark protection.

The function of the commercial register is limited to protecting the company name, which means that other companies may not use the same or a very similar name for their company. However, this does not ensure comprehensive protection of the trademark, which also includes logos, designs, and specific product names.

For this reason, trademark protection is a valuable addition to registration in the commercial register. This protection is broader, and includes graphic elements, which ensures more extensive protection of your brand identity.

For a more in-depth explanation, read our article that sheds light on the nature of the commercial register.

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Are you looking for support to move your company forward?

Nexova AG excels in digital accounting and all related services designed to ensure the ongoing success of our clients. We understand that brand and business name protection is a key element in any company’s growth strategy and is therefore seamlessly integrated into our comprehensive service offering.

Partnering with Nexova AG gives you access to deep accounting expertise and a partner dedicated to driving your company’s growth. One way we ensure your wellbeing is by offering comprehensive advice in key areas such as brand protection, a fundamental building block for a strong and successful business.

We have already provided you with the essential knowledge for company formation and management in Switzerland:

Now we complement this with the protection of your brand.

Start your success story with Nexova AG, your digital fiduciary partner in Switzerland. Contact us today to find out how we can support you on your path to business success with our expertise and commitment!

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