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Brand protection

The Federal Office for Defence Procurement armasuisse is responsible for brand protection and registration of the military brands at home and abroad. Brand protection is carried out in cooperation with external trademark lawyers and with the contractual partners of armasuisse within the framework of brand licence agreements.

Logos of Swiss Military, Swiss Airforce and Patrouille Suisse.

While armasuisse performed brand protection at the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s in particular as a complement and support for the company Victorinox for the brand «Swiss Army», in the meantime, considerable investments have also been made to protect the brands «Swiss Military» and «Swiss Air Force». Where brand protection is concerned, the speciality principle must be taken into account, according to which a product name cannot be protected generally, but only ever for very specific products and services. With a comprehensive, wide-ranging brand protection as in the case of the Confederation’s military brands, a correspondingly large number of product categories (classes according to the international Nice Classification) must be protected.

armasuisse supports the licensees in implementing their brand rights. The focus is on defence against brand piracy, mostly by foreign companies who do not comply with the «Swissness» regulations. Even in Switzerland, the military brands may only be used with authorisation from armasuisse, who is free to decide whether to investigate and prosecute a case. In particular, the following criteria are important:

  • the strategic significance of trademark protection in a specific case;
  • the prospects of success of any legal action;
  • the required financial resources to pay the legal costs.

In three landmark rulings (Swiss Army - B-3553/2007 of 26/8/2008; Swiss Military – B-6372/2010 of 31/01/2011; Swiss Military – B 850/2016 of 22/1/2018), the Federal Administrative Court issued a special status to the military brands of the Swiss Confederation and qualified them as official signs according to Art. 6 of the Coat of Arms Protection Act. This means that in Switzerland, noone may use a sign identical to that of a military brand or a sign that may be confused with a military brand without authorisation from armasuisse. The protection as official sign strengthens protection under trademark law.