Not directly descriptive - not deceptive

In principle, should no reasons for refusal exist, a trademark will be registered. Signs, which must remain at the disposal of the public as well as the competitors (common property, public domain), may not be monopolised. Your trademark must not infringe the public order and has to be actually recognised by the consumers as mean of distinction. According to the Federal Act on Trademarks and Appellations of Origin marks, signs, to which the legally required distinctiveness is missing, signs in common property, shapes for packaging and goods usable for protection, misleading signs and signs contrary to the public order, good custom or applicable law will not be registered. However, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) does not examine whether your trademark already exists in identical or similar form, i.e. it does not examine the existence of potentially conflicting earlier rights. The respective owner himself must claim such earlier rights (relative reasons for refusal of trademark registration), which may lead to the unregistrability of trademark, if a reason for refusal, such as the similarity of the younger mark with an older mark used for identical goods or services, effectively exists. The decision about which right prevails will be made during the contradiction procedure.

The Federal Institute of Intellectual Property refuses for instance marks which hurt the feelings of belief or decency (e.g. BUDDHA for tea or swastika for beer) or marks which create wrong expectations of the consumers concerning the product and therefore are deceptive (e.g. DAKOTA for cigarettes which do not come from the USA). Often the registration of a mark fails, because the applicant wants to reserve a mark for himself, which too strongly adjoins to descriptive public domain. For instance the terms CONNOISSEUR CLASS for flight services and SOURCESAFE for software to safeguard source codes, are both unregistrable. Also direct indications of origin (e.g. PHOENIX for cosmetics) cannot be protected, since such specifications must be freely available for all locally resident producers. However, what applies to abstract colour marks or weak word marks is also valid for indications of origin: Originally in the public domain, they can be established as marks and become accepted in the market as a designation for the products or services for which they are claimed due to an intensive use. The Swiss national emblems are only registrable for service marks and not for trademarks.

(By courtesy of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property)