What the heck is ‘ADB’?

Yet another case of potential interest for trademark aficionada. /MW

Case No. 4A_489/2018 (Supreme Court) | Decision of 3 January 2019

The Swiss trademark application no. 63209/2015 had been rejected by the IPI already back in December 2016. The rejection had been upheld by the FAC with decision of 30 July 2018, and the Supreme Court now finally approved the rejection with decision of 3 January 2018. This is the logo for which protection had been sought for:

Application no. 63209/2015; adb (fig.)

Admittedly, the problem with that sign is not all too obvious. It is a perfect reminder that quite a lot of abbreviations just cannot be trademarked because they are protected by the Federal Act on the Protection of the Names of the Organisations of the United Nations and other international organisations.

It’s not a widely known abbreviation in Europe; it hasn’t even been featured by ‘Die Fantastischen Vier‘ in their song ‘MfG’ (see the lyrics here):

Asian Development Bank

The abbreviation ‘ADB’ stands for ‘Asian Development Bank‘, and it is on the list of protected abbreviations since 2009, as published in the Swiss Federal Gazette here.

Frankly, the decision is not out of the ordinary, from a Swiss perspective. What surprised me, however, is that the very same abbreviation had been trademarked all around the world, in many variations; see the Global Brand Database.

Other offices apparently take a less strict approach.

Reported by Martin WILMING


Case No. 4A_489/2018 (Supreme Court) | Decision of 3 January 2019

Advanced Digital Broadcast S.A.
Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI)

Panel of Judges:

  • Dr. Christina KISS
    • Dr. Kathrin KLETT
    • Dr. Fabienne HOHL
    • Dr. Martha NIQUILLE
    • Marie-Chantal MAY CANELLAS

Court Clerk:

  • Christian STÄHLE

Representative(s) of Advanced Digital Broadcast S.A.:


Fullscreen view (new tab)


Fullscreen view (new tab)


Enter your name and email address below to get notified of new posts by email.