Swissness – Legislation
“Exclusivity, quality, reliability, seriousness and international renown”. These are the positive values associated with Switzerland worldwide. Swissness is a huge trend and many cosmetics manufacturers are using this designation of origin as a sustainable positioning and image-boosting strategy on the most competitive global markets. The “Swissness” legislation strengthens the protection of the designation “Switzerland” and of the Swiss cross. It helps to prevent or limit their misuse and thus to ensure the “brand Switzerland” will continue to retain its strong value in future. The “Swissness” legislation has been in force since the 1st of January 2017. How this applies to cosmetics of Swiss origin, specifically, is defined in the industry ordinance (“Swiss Made” Ordinance for Cosmetics).
The Federal Council passed the new “Swissness” legislation already on the 2nd of September 2015, and it came into force on the 1st of January 2017. It is based on precise rules in Swiss Federal Law on the protection of brands and designations of origin (“Markenschutzgesetz”), which stipulate the prerequisites for using Swiss designations of origin for a product or service. If one adheres to these criteria, then one may continue to use the designation Switzerland at one’s discretion and without special permission. The new legislation now also allows one to market goods with a “Swissness” claim, which was previously only allowed for services.
“Swiss Made” Ordinance for Cosmetics
In the cosmetics industry, there was particular uncertainty as to what criteria must be met before one could legally use a designation of Swiss origin. There was accordingly an even greater need for an industry-specific explanation of the “Swissness” legislation, and this was eventually passed in the form of the “Swiss Made” Ordinance for Cosmetics.
This ordinance was set out in cooperation between the Swiss Cosmetic and Detergent Association (SKW) and the Association for the Protection of the Origin of Swiss Cosmetics, thus doing proper justice to the specific requirements and peculiarities of cosmetic products.
The Ordinance accounts for all marks that are understood by the relevant public in Switzerland as an indication of a cosmetic product’s Swiss origin. This includes geographical names, flags, the Swiss cross and other national symbols.
The ordinance demands that at least 60 percent of the production costs and at least 80 percent of the research, development and manufacturing costs of cosmetics are incurred in Switzerland. Manufacturing costs in this context are not inclusive of material costs. This indicates that focus is not on the ingredients, because their graphical origin has no major influence on the quality and properties of the final cosmetic product. Research and development costs also include expenses for performing stability tests and microbiological challenge tests.
Aside from laying out rules on “cost generation”, the ordinance also mentions specific activities that decisively influence the quality and character of a cosmetic product, and which must therefore be carried out explicitly in Switzerland. These activities include, for example, producing the bulk and filling the cosmetic product into the primary packaging.
The Ordinance, which spans 9 articles, came into force at the same time as the general “Swissness” legislation on the 1st of January 2017. The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IGE) provides explanations to help interpret the Ordinance.
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Game, Set, Match! - sounds the final call. But before you get there you have to work point by point. This might be the only similarity which my passion for tennis and cosmetic regulatory topics share. The versatility of cosmetic ingredients offers a big playground for regulatory topics and issues which often happen to be a challenge and chance at the same time. As a passionate cosmetic chemist I'm looking forward to new regulatory adventures and confirm: challenge accepted!