Trademark registration in Switzerland - The ultimate guide

Find out everything about the application process, costs and time required to register your trademark in Switzerland.

In which country do you want to register your trademark?


Why register a trademark in Switzerland?

Although not part of the European Union, Switzerland has access to the EU single market, making it one of the world's most advanced and competitive economies. Coupled with a very transparent legal system, low taxes, and strong domestic purchasing power makes it an attractive location to both domestic entrepreneurs and foreign businesses. Trademark registration offers an effective mechanism for protecting the uniqueness of this vital asset of any business. It is therefore strongly recommended for both new and established companies that offer goods and services in Switzerland.

Which body registers trademarks in Switzerland?

The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) is responsible for examining, granting and administering intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks and designs).

How is trademark priority in Switzerland determined?

Switzerland is a so-called "First-to-File" jurisdiction, meaning applicants who first apply for a trademark are assigned trademark rights and given priority over others, regardless of the actual use of the trademark in commerce. 

How long does it take to register a trademark in Switzerland?

The duration of the procedure depends on the individual case. Applications that are  so called “straightforward” ( (1) list of goods and services consist for the most part of terms accepted by the IPI, (2) no formal grounds for refusal can be ascertained and (3) no relevant results in the databases can be found) are examined within 6 working days and registered after payment of the filing fees and any class surcharges (see early trade mark examination and this chart). 

All other applications are generally examined within 4 months after payment of the filing fee and any class surcharges. Within this time limit, the IPI will either confirm that your trademark is to be accepted for registration in the trade mark register or inform you of any deficiencies which you can subsequently remedy within a given time limit.

It is possible to request an expedited examination. This guarantees that your trademark will be registered or an objection letter will be sent within 1 month and that the remaining procedural steps will be completed within 2 months. The expedited examination is subject to a fee.

What is the cost of trademark registration in Switzerland?

The fee for filing a trademark application (including three classes of goods and services): ₣550 (approx. $596) 

The fee for every additional class: ₣100 (approx. $108).

The fee for expedited trademark examination: ₣400 (approx. $433).

Who can register a trademark in Switzerland?

Applications for the registration of trademarks in Switzerland can be filed by the applicant directly. However, foreign citizens and companies are required to submit proof of a residential, respectively, legal address in the country. Foreign applicants residing outside of Switzerland are, therefore, recommended to perform the trademark application process through a licensed trademark attorney. Having a local representative can significantly reduce the time and cost of the application procedure. 

What does the trademark registration process in Switzerland look like?

1. Create a distinctive sign

For a trademark to be eligible for registration, it has to meet specific criteria, one of them being distinctiveness. As the purpose of a trademark is to distinguish a recognisable source of goods or services to the consumer, only a sign with at least a minimum level of a distinctive character can achieve this purpose without consumer confusion. The more descriptive or customary a name, logo, or any other brand elements are, the less likely they will be registered by the IPI. You can learn more about registration requirements and the distinctiveness of trademarks by visiting our Trademark Academy.

2. Conduct prior search

Another important step in applying for a trademark is ensuring that it is not confusingly similar to already registered marks. Many starting businesses that tried to register their trademarks without prior research have either suffered rejection directly from the IPI or received opposition from their competitors who registered their marks prior to them. In trademark law, those owners who filed their trademarks earlier have way stronger positions over all the similar marks applied for later (as the owners of prior rights can, for example, attack the new applications in the opposition proceedings), even if the registration process was not yet completed. As a result, the IPI, in general, recommends searching their trademark database before submitting an application.

3. Submit an application

You can submit an application via the IPI’s E-Trademark system. In your application, you must provide details of your trademark and the list of goods or services you want to protect under your mark. Therefore, all the Nice classes and their respective individual terms you wish to register must be included. The application can be filed in one of the three official languages in Switzerland: German, Italian or French.

After filing the application, the IPI will:

  • Examine the application

A trademark application is reviewed by an examiner at the IPI. In the examination of the filing, the list of goods and services is checked. If your application consists for the most part of terms that are included in the IPI's pre-approved database, your application qualifies for an early trademark examination. If the examiner finds any formal or substantive deficiencies in the application, they will object to the application. Applicants are then given an opportunity to respond to such objections and, if appropriate, to amend the application. Swiss trademark applications (unlike international applications designating Switzerland or usually any other trade mark application in different jurisdictions) may be amended during the application process. However, if significant amendments are requested, it may cause the filing date to be postponed.

  • Publish trademark for oppositions

Once an application is examined, a formal notice of approval is issued, and thereafter the application is published in the Swissreg. Once published, third parties may oppose the application on a variety of grounds, including prior use of a confusingly similar trademark or trade name. 

  • Provide the registration certificate

If your application is not opposed within 3 months since the publication, your trademark will be registered subsequently.

What does the trademark opposition process look like in Switzerland?

The three-month opposition period begins from the date of publication on Swissreg. Owners of an earlier trademark that is identical or similar to a newer application can file opposition during this period.

Time: An opposition proceedings before the IPI can take as long as two to four years or even longer.

Cost: The fee for filling a notice of opposition is ₣800 (approx. $868); it must be paid within the time limit set by the IPI. If not, the IPI will not consider the opposition. Additionally, as the opposition process can take up to 2-4 years, the total cost of legal proceedings can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

How long does a trademark last in Switzerland? How can I renew my Swiss trademark?

After registration, your trademark is protected in Switzerland for 10 years from the filing date without any additional costs. However, you must begin using your trademark at least within the 5 years after registration, otherwise you could lose your rights under certain circumstances.

Renewal fee (for ten years, indefinitely renewable): ₣700 (approx. $760)

The trademark renewal can be requested as early as 12 months before the expiration date and there is a 6-month grace period after that date when the trademark can still be renewed subject to the payment of additional fee.

Surcharge (for submission during 6 month post-deadline period): ₣50 (approx. $54).

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