Switzerland: Special Arbitration Panel During BASELWORLD

Last Updated: 3 April 2017
Article by Thomas Rihm

The Baselworld Panel is an arbitration board that deals with complaints about violations of intellectual property rights during the BASELWORLD taking place between March 23, 2017, and March 30, 2017. BASELWORLD is the largest and most important fair for watches and jewellery in the world.

In order to offer e.g. all the exhibitors at BASELWORLD a simple and fast track arbitration procedure in case of potential infringements of their intellectual property rights, BASELWORLD offers during the entire fair an arbitration panel that deals with all respective complaints.

The panel is currently made up of seven people with voting rights (lawyers and experts with specialist knowledge of the watch and jewellery sector) and one person without a voting right (technical expert). The chairman of the panel is a Swiss lawyer, whilst the other panel members come from the People's Republic of China, France, Italy and Switzerland.

The panel is only deployed for the duration of the show. It only becomes operational and convenes if and when complaints are filed.

Anyone with a concern that its intellectual property rights are violated at the fair is entitled to call upon the panel. Besides the exhibitors, non-exhibitors too may file a complaint with the Panel if they first acknowledge the Panel's rules and submit to the procedure and the decision by the Panel.

The applicant may give notice of the violation of immaterial property rights with the complaint. These include the rights to a:

  • design pursuant to the Swiss Federal Laws on the Protection of Designs;
  • trademark or indication of source pursuant to the Swiss Federal Laws on the Protection of Trademarks;
  • patent for invention pursuant to the Swiss Federal Laws on Patents for Inventions;
  • work protected by copyright pursuant to the Swiss Federal Laws on Copyrights; and/or

The applicant may also give notice of a breach of fair competition for the purposes of the Swiss Federal Laws against Unfair Competition.

Complaints may be filed every day throughout the duration of the fair. It is sufficient if the complaint is filed verbally. Representation by a lawyer is not necessary. The panel will follow up on the complaint if the applicant has paid the processing fee and has submitted the necessary evidence to make a ruling on the case. As a rule, extracts from national or international registers from which it is clear that the protected privileges asserted extend to Switzerland are regarded as evidence. Whenever possible, applicants should bring an original item with them.

Once the complaint is filed, a delegation from the panel, together with the applicant and the defendant, inspect the exhibtion stand run by the defendant occupied and clarify the issue. The delegation from the panel must be granted unrestricted access to the entire stand. At the same time, the defendant has the opportunity to comment on the objections. The delegation is entitled to demand that the objects under investigation are handed over temporarily and/or photographed. Following the inspection of the booth, the panel will reach its decision in a plenary session. The decision will be disclosed to both parties in writing on the following day.

Decisions by the panel are binding for all parties. While exhibitors acknowledge the panel's rules and submit to them by signing the exhibitor contract, non-exhibitors acknowledge the procedure and the decision of the Panel with a special declaration during the fair. The decisions by the panel are legally binding for the duration of the show and are to be executed immediately. If the legal dispute is continued before an ordinary court, the decisions of the Panel may be used as expert opinions if required.

If the panel approves the complaint, the item in question must be removed from the pavilion immediately and may no longer be offered for sale. Depending on the gravity of the violation, the panel may also recommend to the fair management that the pavilion occupied by the subject of the complaint is closed immediately or that the subject of the complaint be excluded from the subsequent fair.

If a party can supply new facts or evidence from documents that it could not provide during the inspection of the exhibition stand, it may file an application in writing giving its reasons to have the panel reconsider the situation during the show. The parties may also lodge an appeal in writing, giving their reasons against the panel award, during the show or within 30 days thereafter. However, neither the application for reconsideration nor the appeal will have a suspensive effect.

Exhibitors who file a complaint with the panel have to pay an advance on costs of CHF 2,200. If they win, they are reimbursed CHF 1,100. Non-exhibitors pay CHF 10,000 when they file a complaint. If the complaint is approved, the subject of the complaint will pay CHF 4,000. Reconsideration costs a minimum of CHF 2,200. The processing fees are used solely to cover the panel's operating costs.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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