The declared objective of the current Swisness legislation procedure is to retain and safeguard the value of the “Brand Switzerland”. In order to meet this objective, both the Trademark Protection Act and the Coat of Arms Act were revised. The latter protects the Swiss coat of arms and other public insignia.
The revised Coat of Arms Act passed by Parliament on 21 June 2013 specifies inter alia that a symbol whose use is inadmissible according to the provisions of the Coat of Arms Act may not be registered as a Design or as a part thereof. It will enter into force on 1 January 2017.
The insignia that may not be used by private parties under any circumstances and may therefore not be entered in the Design Register as a Design or as a part thereof, include in particular the Swiss coat of arms (Swiss Cross in a triangular shield), the coat of arms of cantons, districts, boroughs and parishes and any symbols that could be confused therewith. Such a ban further includes word logos relating to the Swiss coat of arms, the coat of arms of a canton, district, borough, or parish (e.g. the Swiss Cross or the “Bear of Bern”).
Other symbols, by contrast, that may be used by private parties, unless such use would be misleading, would contravene public order, offend public morals or violate existing laws, include the Swiss flag (Swiss Cross in a square field) and other emblems of the Swiss Confederation (e.g. hallmarks) of cantons, districts boroughs and parishes and any symbols that may be confused therewith, as well as logos of national words or pictures (e.g. “Helvetia”, “Tell” or “Rütli”).
If said coats of arms, flags and other emblems or any word and picture logos are moreover employed by the respective trade circles to indicate geographic origin of products or services, they will be regarded as indications of origin in the meaning of the Trademark Protection Act, and the relevant provisions (Art. 47–50 Trademark Protection Act – MSchG or TPA) are applicable. The revised provisions of the TPA relating to details of origin, likewise passed by Parliament on 21 June 2013, contain initial guidelines about the method of defining the origin of natural products, victuals and industrial products. In other words, what should be the future requirements to allow a respective product to be promoted as being Swiss (see also Swiss Made and Swissness). The revised TPA and the respective regulations will enter into force on 1 January 2017. Many questions will only be clarified through application of the law.