Why should geographical indications be protected? Because they enable consumers to determine the origin and quality of products. A good many of them have acquired great prestige, which in the absence of appropriate protection may be unlawfully exploited by dishonest operators. That unlawful use by unauthorised third parties is prejudicial both to consumers and to the legitimate producers. Consumers are in fact misled and induced to believe that they are buying an authentic product which has precise qualities and characters, even though they are in fact acquiring an imitation. For their part, legitimate producers lose the benefit of their investments and see the prestige of their own products called into question.
For more than 40 years, the geographical indications Swiss and Swiss made used for watches have been defined and protected by law. A Federal ordinance revised several times defines the precise criteria on the basis of which a timepiece may bear the indication Swiss or Swiss made. These criteria relate as much to the origin of the different components of the watch (movement and exterior parts) as to the design activities and the operations of manufacture, assembly and final inspection. They were strengthened significantly in the course of 2016.