The logo on your favourite jumper, the design of a handbag, the patented clockwork mechanism of the watch on your wrist or the song playing on the radio: almost everything is protected, whether it’s through a trademark, a design, a patent or copyright. Even geographical indications of source such as “Swiss”, “Switzerland”, “Geneva” etc. may only be used if they’re correct.
Counterfeiters and pirates don’t abide by the law and copy the work of others. This is illegal and can be punished with imprisonment of up to one year or a monetary fine of millions. If an offender acts commercially, he can even be imprisoned for up to five years. In addition, the illegally-manufactured products can be destroyed in criminal proceedings. Even advertising a fake for sale as a private person on Facebook or in an internet auction is illegal and you can be prosecuted.
And it’s not only the manufacturing and selling of counterfeit goods that are illegal. Importing counterfeits of brand names and designer goods into Switzerland, even privately, is also illegal. In addition to importing, the law also prohibits the export and transit of counterfeit products. Customs officials can seize counterfeits when being imported or exported and destroy them, regardless of whether they’re “only” a single souvenir from your holiday or an entire suitcase full of counterfeits. What’s more, you may also be confronted with claims for damages by the manufacturer.
Streaming and downloading content (such as music, games, films, e-books or pictures) is legal for private use. What many people don’t know, however, is that some file-sharing networks automatically access your media library while you’re downloading, thus making it available to other users. This is a criminal offence. The ban on uploading applies to all content. Downloading and copying computer software is also illegal, even if it’s only for the user’s own personal use. A person who downloads or streams illegal uploads doesn’t make himself liable to prosecution according to prevailing doctrine. Whether or not this behaviour is fair towards artists is more a moral question than a legal one, and one that every user has to answer for himself.
Due to its membership structure, STOP PIRACY is politically neutral and can’t take sides where law enforcement is concerned. The courts (often also foreign ones) are responsible for closing an online counterfeit goods shop or a file-sharing platform.