Maestro Swiss: a geographical indication


Chew Kherk Ying and Chen Hong Sze

The first Malaysian appellant court decision on geographical indications arose from a recent appeal by Chocosuisse Union des Fabricants Suisses de Chocolat, Kraft Foods Schweiz AG and Nestlé Suisse SA (the appellants) against a decision of the High Court which found in favour of the Maestro Swiss group of companies.

The appellants’ suit was initiated in 2005 against Maestro Swiss Chocolate Sdn Bhd, Maestro Swiss Products Sdn Bhd, Maestro Swiss Corporation (M) Sdn Bhd and Maestro Swiss Holdings (M) Sdn Bhd (the respondents) for, among others, the respondents’ use of the words ‘Maestro Swiss’ in relation to chocolate and chocolate-related products, particularly in relation to chocolates with the brand name ‘Vochelle’.

The respondents’ products were manufactured in Malaysia. The appellants’ objection to the use by the respondent of the words ‘Maestro Swiss’ was on the premise that the use of the words would be taken by a significant section of the Malaysian public as being indicative of the products bearing such words having been manufactured in Switzerland or by a Swiss manufacturer, given the reputation and goodwill for fine quality chocolates manufactured in and exported from Switzerland.

The appellants claimed that the continued use by the respondents of the words ‘Maestro Swiss’ in relation to the products was calculated to misappropriate the goodwill and reputation and/or commercial advantage enjoyed by the appellants and/or other Swiss chocolate manufacturers in relation to Swiss chocolates.

Malaysia, Maestro Swiss, Switzerland. geographical indication