A. PATENTS of Invention
Liechtenstein does neither have an own patent law nor a patent office. Instead, the patents of invention are being governed by the Swiss patent law and are administered by the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property (IGE) in Berne, Switzerland, due to a bilateral patent protection act of 1978. Granted Swiss patents cover the territories of both Switzerland and Liechtenstein, irrespective of the route of patent filing and prosecution, i.e. whether via a Swiss national, a European regional or a PCT international filing.
IMPORTANT: Swiss/Liechtenstein patent applications are not being examined on the merits for novelty and inventive step but only on formal issues. It is therefore up to the Applicant to file enforceable claims that patentably distinguish the claimed invention from the prior art. Accelerated formal examination is possible upon request and payment of an acceleration fee.
Given that Swiss patents of invention share various characteristics with utility patents and petty patents (except for the 20 years patent term) the Swiss patent law as currently applicable does not provide for the possibility of obtaining utility patents.
Supplementary Protection Certificates
Supplementary Protection Certificates for drugs that are subject to market authorization procedures are available. It shall be noted in this context that it is not possible to extend the term of SPC-protected drug sales from the European Union into Switzerland/Liechtenstein beyond the term granted in the European Union (in case of an earlier market authorization in the EU), and, vice versa, it is not possible to extend the term of SPC-protected drug sales from Switzerland into the European Union beyond the term granted in Switzerland/Liechtenstein (in case of an earlier market authorization in Switzerland), on the basis that Liechtenstein is a member state of the European Economic Area (EEA) while Switzerland is not.
The Liechtenstein trademark law and practice is very similar to the Swiss trademark law and practice. For that reason, objections raised by the Swiss IPO against a new trademark application on absolute grounds of refusal will very likely also be raised by the Liechtenstein IPO for the very same reasons. However, future examination practice will focus more on European Union trade mark practice and case law than on Swiss trade mark practice.
As of 24 March 2022 the overly strict examination practice of the Liechtenstein IPO relating to geographical indications of any kind has been abandoned. Previously, almost any geographical hint in a newly filed trademark application resulted in an objection on the grounds that the public will be confused or misled by the geographical indication if the goods or services were not limited to originate from that town, or region or country. According to the new trade mark practice, the Liechtenstein IPO will refrain from generally requesting a limitation of the list of goods and services in case of geographical hints in the body of trade marks filed for registration after 24 March 2022.
Also, as of 01 January 2023 the Liechtenstein trade mark practice provides newly introduced administrative procedures for opposition against the registration of a trade mark application, as well as for the declaration of nullity of a registered mark on the basis of absolute grounds of refusal, and also a new procedure for requesting declaration of invalidity of a registered mark on the basis of relative grounds of refusal (i.e. prior rights).
Use of the trademark
Use of a Liechtenstein trademark shall commence within 5 years from filing and shall not be interrrupted for more than 5 consecutive years in order to prevent the trademark from becoming vulnerable to cancellation. Yet, hardly ever will a Liechtenstein trademark be canceled or invalidated on the sole ground of a lack of use, simply because the proper use of the mark within any of the territories of Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the European Union will we regarded as a proper use of the mark in Liechtenstein.
For more information on any of these topics please contact us by email or give us a phone call. It will be our pleasure to answer your specific questions.