Glossary

 

 

Intellectual property

Along with tangible assets which include buildings, machinery, financial assets etc. Intellectual property related to intangible assets such as the know-how of a business, ideas, brands, inventions, designs etc. These assets are the result of significant human and financial investments. They often have a much greater value than the tangible assets. The world’s most valuable brands are worth more than $150 billion!

Intellectual property rights

Intellectual property may be the object of a monopoly of exploitation through the exclusive rights of trademarks, designs, copyright, patents and indications of source. 

Trademark

A trademark is a protected sign which makes it possible to distinguish the goods or services of one business from those of another. It identifies the origin of these goods and services. As such, it is how your customers will identify your company.

This can be a word, a logo, a tagline or a combination of these elements, and even a shape or a sound.

A trademark is protected only for the goods and services designated in the registration (or as actually used, in certain countries.)  Protection is territorial: it must be obtained in each country of interest.

A registered trademark can be used to prevent third parties from using and/or registering an identical or similar trademark for goods and services that are identical or similar if it would result in a likelihood of confusion for consumers.
In Switzerland, once registered, a trademark is valid for 10 years. It can be renewed for the same duration indefinitely.

Design

A design covers the appearance of a product or part of a product in two-dimensional form such as patterns, lines or colors, or in a three-dimensional form such as the shape of a product or part of it, or the shape of the packaging. The protectable aspects of the design are the distinctive features that make the product stand out in the marketplace.

A registered design can be used to prevent third parties from using and registering an identical or similar design. It must be protected in each country of interest.

In Switzerland, once registered, a design is valid for 5 years. It can be renewed every 5 years for the same duration for a maximum period of 25 years.

Patent

A patent is an exclusive right in an invention, namely a new technical solution, technology or process for manufacturing.

A patent grants a monopoly on use, enabling the owner to prevent third parties from using the invention for commercial purposes.  

The protection is valid only in the countries where the patent is granted. It expires 20 years from the filing date. Thereafter, the invention enters the public domain and can be used by everybody

Copyrights

Copyright protects literary or artistic works such as books, music, paintings, sculptures, movies, software, databases, advertisements, etc. It protects the form in which an idea is expressed, not the idea itself.

The creator of a work decides when and how such work may be used. The extent of copyright protection varies from one country to another.

In Switzerland, copyright is automatically acquired upon creation of the work.
It is, however, essential to keep a record of dated evidence of the creation in order to be able to show one’s copyrights in case of unauthorized copying.

Domain name

A domain name is the internet address associated with an IP address between the computer and the servers. It’s the digital identity of your business. It consists of a name and an extension (.ch, .com, .eu …).

It is registered with accredited registrars and acquired on a first come, first served basis.
This is not an intellectual property right: it cannot be used in an infringement claim.

 

Trade name

A trade name is the name of a business as registered with the trade registry.
This is not an intellectual property right: it cannot be used in an infringement claim.

Indications of source

An indication of source relates to the geographical origin of a product or a service.

It allows the user to distinguish the goods or services which originate from a given geographical area through a geographical reference or a reference as to the characteristics or the quality of such goods or services.

In Switzerland, indications of source are protected against misuse without the need to seek registration.