Marchi di forma: la Corte Suprema svizzera afferma regole simili a quelle dell’UE

1. The ratio legis for excluding shapes that are technically
necessary is the same in Swiss law and in European law:
shapes incorporating a technical solution must remain
freely available to the public. It is important to avoid
granting a perpetual monopoly through trademark law,
and under other intellectual property rights legislators
have given inventors a time-limited advantage to recover
their investment before allowing free competition after
the expiry of a protection.
2. In the present case only those alternative shapes of cap-
sules that are compatible with the overall device (coffee
machine) must be assessed to determine whether the con-
tested capsule shape is technically necessary.
3. Two elements are to be considered when assessing the
exclusion of technically necessary shapes. First, a strict
standard must be applied when considering the existence
of alternative solutions: these must be equivalent and not
entail any disadvantages for the competitors, who must
be placed on an equal footing. A solution that entails only
minor additional costs or which is less efficient is already
inadmissible. Second, the alternative capsules have to be
sufficiently different from the contested shape in the mind
of the purchasing public.

Queste le massime di Corte Suprema Federale svizzera, 07.09.2021, 4A_61/2021, tradotta in inglese in GRUR International, 2022, 1–11.

La decisione riguardava la questione della registrabilità come marchio delle forma della capsule di caffè Nespresso, scdaduto il brevetto inventivo. Nestlè l’aveva ottenutga uin Svizzera ma non in altri imporanti paesi (tra cui UE).

Il Tribunale del cantone Vaud annulla la registrazione e così pure la corte Suprema. Questa però cambia lamotivaizone (da noi una simile disposizione processuale prob. è ,l’art. 384/2 cpc): la ragione dell anullità non è il fatto che il marchio è di uso comune nel commercio (emendabile dalla rinomanza), bensì che è costgituito da forma tenciametne necessitata (non emendabile). Il passso più importante allora è quello nella massima 3. Ad es.: <<Furthermore, expert E3.___ indicated that the perforation of the double-cone capsules could be insufficient. It could also be incomplete or non-existent in the case of parabolic capsules. A test with a prototype parabolic capsule (based on capsule 2 [93]) showed that perforation was zero; this type of capsule should be pre-punched. The diameter of the parabolic capsules was also likely to cause sealing problems and even the risk of tearing. Moreover, the five capsules had a smaller volume, allowing less than 5 g of coffee to be stored and causing the drip tray to fill up more quickly. Finally, it is worth noting the ‘theoretical’ aspect of these designs and prototypes, as opposed to competing capsules that have passed the test of commercialization.

These disadvantages already rule out the possibility that these alternative shapes could be reasonably imposed on competitors ‒ not to mention the fact that they do not appear to be sufficiently distinct from the Nespresso capsule.>>