Swiss Federal Appeals Court quashes attack against Swiss Confederation’s SWISS MILITARY trademark

The Swiss Federal Appeals Court, in its decision of 22 January 2018, upheld the Swiss Confederation’s appeal against the decision of the Swiss IP Institute to cancel the Confederation’s SWISS MILITARY trademark based on the opposition of a Swiss watchmaker.

The Court’s decision is important for two specific reasons: It confirmed that SWISS MILITARY is an official designation under the  Federal Act on the Protection of the Swiss Coat of Arms and other Public Signs (CAPA). The scope of protection of a trademark (i.e. the watchmaker’s trademark) which has been registered despite the CAPA is reduced to zero. Furthermore, the Court held that there is no per se risk of confusion in cases of double identity of trademarks (identical goods/services, identical marks) but only a rebuttable presumption of a risk of confusion. It is the first time in Swiss trademark legal history that these important issues have been clarified by a Federal Court.

Lenz & Staehelin partner Jürg Simon represented the Swiss Confederation.

Published: 19 March 2018