Protection for Apple’s figurative mark

The Federal Administrative Court upholds an appeal by Apple Inc., Cupertino, against the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI). The trade mark for sound, video and film recordings is granted protection in Switzerland.



The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) had refused to protect the international registration on the grounds that, for customers, the image directly describes the content of the sound, video and film recordings and corresponding data carriers and would not, therefore, be perceived as a trade mark.

The Federal Administrative Court holds that the trade mark registration does not indicate the subject for which the recordings are used. A refusal on the grounds that the depicted apple could be the subject would exclude any sound, video and film trademarks as such. Since the IPI did not find any current market need to keep the sign free (requirement of availability), and since the image is not typical for the goods in question, protection for Switzerland must be granted. However, if the trade mark is used for media dealing thematically with apples, the protection would diminish.

This judgment may be appealed to the Federal Supreme Court.


Andreas Notter

Head of communication 2017-2024