The Federal Supreme Court and the Federal Administrative Court recently handed down conflicting decisions in two ostensibly similar cases concerning disputed family names. The cases demonstrate that while the use of family names in company names is permissible even if the family name is part of an older name of a company active in the same industry, no equivalent rule exists in trademark law.
New provisions amending the Patent Act recently entered into force. The revised act includes two additional exemptions from patent protection that aim to safeguard the professional use of pharmaceuticals in favour of patients. Further, patent owners may now request to extend their patent protection for six months if they conduct clinical studies concerning the paediatric use of a pharmaceutical.
Under Swiss copyright law, which sets out a number of lawful ways to use copyrighted works, Replay TV constitutes private use and is covered by the respective statute of limitations. However, as users receive TV programmes via a third party (ie, Replay TV service providers), a statutory copyright levy is imposed on Replay TV. Unsurprisingly, TV stations are unhappy with this arrangement and have attempted to contest it before the courts.
The Federal Supreme court recently had to examine whether the Christian Louboutin red-sole trademark is originally distinctive. The court recognised that the mark constitutes a position mark that must be distinguished from both a colour mark and a three-dimensional mark. It held that the colour red is commonly used in the fashion industry as a decorative element and therefore concluded that a red outer sole does not constitute a surprising element qualifying as a trademark.
From January 1 2017 a new set of rules will enter into force, defining the requirements regarding the use of terms such as 'Swiss', 'Swiss made' and 'Swiss quality', as well as the use of pictures including the Swiss flag or any symbol referring to Switzerland. The purpose of the new rules is to clarify when a geographical indication such as 'Swiss' can be used and to increase legal certainty.