Editor’s Note: Two companies with an amazingly similar logo are duking it out in Swiss courts to decide who has the rights to a special trademark consisting of a white cross on a red backgroud. Caught in the middle, a Chinese company licensed to make products for one of the companies. The outcome of the case will determine the future of the little red and white logo, and the information in this article may reassure you that those luggages you find in Chinese airports emblazened with a Swiss Army knife logo aren’t actually fakes.
Source: QQ News
Swiss Army knives and their ‘red cross’ logo are familiar to many throughout the Middle Kingdom. But the realms of Swiss Army products are separated into such an excessive number of commodities emblazened with nearly identical logos (i.e. luggage brands Wenger and SwissGear) that their sheer volume is enough to dazzle the eyes and make it difficult to tell which are the real thing. In the past few years, all of these various yet annoyingly similar trademarks have lived in peace, recently however, that peace that been broken.
Let the Battle Begin
On February 9th, German news outlet Der Spiegle reported that a lawsuit involving Wenger, a Victorinox brand, and SwissGear was underway in Swiss courts, both parties claiming that they are the legal owners of the ‘red cross’ logo.
Karl Elsener was the first person to carve a white shield and cross into the red handles of Victorinox knives in 1909 as the company’s trademark. Wenger’s history is by no means short. Established in 1893, besides army knives, Wenger also produced watches, luggage, tools and other goods. In 2005, Wenger was acquired by Victorinox, who obtained proprietary rights to the companies products.
On the other hand, Swiss Gear, whose headquarters is located in the Baltic region, but is reported by the Handelszeitung to be “controlled” by a Chinese company out of Quanzhou. Investigation by Guancha News revealed that in China, the holder of Swiss Gear’s tradmark is a Beijing Dong Hui Wenger Commercial Trading Co. Ltd.
Simply Symbol, Complex Issue
Furthermore, both Wenger and Swiss Gear’s trademarks are composed of a white cross set against a red backgroud. Making it difficult for most people to tell the difference.
Even more confusing is that Wenger’s North American branch launched a series of products also called “Swiss Gear”. The products in the series are marked by a “Swiss Gear by Wenger” logo, however, “Swiss Gear” is simply the name of the product line and not a registered trademark.
So why have the two companies just now taken the issue to court? Orignally, the cross symbol wasn’t protected by Swiss copyright law. Last year, Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IGE) put forward a law that would come into effect on January 1st of this year, making the cross eligible to be trademarked. Before the new trademark protection law went into effect, both Wenger and Swiss Gear went to the IGE to register the little cross as their trademark. Before this, Victorinox had only registered the trademark in America.
Due to the fact that the two trademarks are so similar, the case has been sent up to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, and no one is certain as to exactly what the outcome of this trademark war will be. Der Spiegel states that currently Victorinox is not responding to questions regarding the case at this time.
Whether or not the Chinese company liscensed to make Swiss Gear products will be able to continue to legally do so without repercussions will be determined by Swiss legal authorities. It does seem quite strange that the same characters used to sinify Wenger’s company name (威戈)
are also used in the Chinese name of the company with manufacturing rights to Swiss Gear. Whether or not “Swiss Gear” is actually controlled by a company from Quanzhou or its products are simply manufactured by the aforementioned Beijing company whose name was dug up after some research is unclear. However this wouldn’t be the first time wild speculation and attempts to find a scapegoat muddled the facts in a situation such as this.
So those luggages you see in the airport with the symbol that doesn’t look quite the the same as that brand you remember may not be fakes, they might just be products from one of two brands locked in a symbolic war, a war over rights to a picture, made by a China-based company likely to do so. Or you know...they might also just be fakes.
Source: QQ News
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Keywords: Swiss Trademark logo
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This should be a no-brainer... a company that has used the same logo for more than 100 years, versus a company that's only recently come on the scene, from a company infamous for just outright stealing patents, logos, copyrights, trademarks, etc etc etc.... This would totally suck if Swiss Gear wins this!
Feb 24, 2017 12:20 Report Abuse