Statute of the Association of Swiss Patent and Trademark Attorneys (ASPTA)
I. Name and headquarters
Art. 1 An association exists under articles 60 and following of the Swiss Civil Code under the name ”Association of Swiss Patent and Trademark Attorneys” (“ASPTA”) and of “Verband Schweizerischer Patent- und Markenanwälte” (“VSP”).
Art. 2 Its headquarters are at the professional address of the current president.
Art. 3 The goal of the association is to promote and defend, in Switzerland and abroad, the interests, rights and image of the members who practice privately in Switzerland in the field of intellectual property, and in particular:
3.1. to promote collegiate collaboration between members;
3.2. to represent the professional and economic interests of the members, as well as of the profession, before administrations, offices and third parties;
3.3. to promote education and further education, in particular for the members, and to encourage future practitioners;
3.4. to establish contacts with authorities and associations in Switzerland and abroad;
3.5. to participate in writing laws in the field of intellectual property; and
3.6. to participate in organising the federal examination for patent attorneys in the framework of the legal regulations.
III. Categories of members
Art. 4 The association is comprised of ordinary, veteran and junior members.
Art. 5 Veteran, honorary and junior members may participate in all association events, but they do not have the right to vote.
IV. Membership conditions
A. Ordinary members
Art. 6 Those who cumulatively fulfil the following basic conditions may become ordinary members:
6.1. Professional residence in Switzerland and activity as an industrial property attorney and/or trademark counsel;
6.2 Engage in this activity as an independent counsel, the interpretation of the independence thereof to be according to the rules of FICPI;
6.3 Owner or associate of an independent or wholly-owned company, employee of such an independent or wholly-owned company while acting in a managerial or responsible capacity, or employee of such an independent or wholly-owned company of which the owner or one of the associates is a member of the association;
6.4 Practice in a loyal, honest and collegial manner and not have been subject to a legally-valid administrative sanction due to his or her professional conduct;
6.5. Take responsibility towards the association for compliance with the statutes, regulations and codes of conduct of the association and of FICPI by his company or wholly-owned company or by persons who are associated with him under company law, inasmuch as such is not the responsibility of a member of the association occupying a position superior to his.
Art. 7 If the basic conditions are fulfilled, one at least of the following special conditions must be fulfilled to obtain the status of ordinary member:
7.1. To be registered in the registry of patent attorneys kept by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property;
7.2. To be registered in the list of professional representatives before the European Patent Office and to prove at least three years’ experience in Switzerland before the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, or prove equivalent education (details according to the admissions regulation);
7.3. To prove full legal studies in Switzerland or abroad, at least five years’ experience in trademark law before the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property as well as a practice mainly in the field of trademark law.
8.1. Ordinary members who fulfil the conditions of art. 7.1. may use the title of “ASPTA Intellectual Property Attorney” or “ASPTA Patent Attorney” or “Patentanwalt VSP”.
8.2. Ordinary members who fulfil the conditions of art. 7.2 may use the title of “ASPTA Intellectual Property Attorney”.
8.3. Ordinary members who fulfil the conditions of art. 7.3. may use the title of “ASPTA Trademark Attorney” or “Markenanwalt VSP”.
B. Veteran members
Art. 9 Ordinary members who cease their professional practice may be nominated as Veteran members upon their request.
C. Honorary members
Art. 10 Individuals who have provided eminent services in the field of intellectual property may be nominated as honorary members.
D. Junior members
Art. 11 Candidate Industrial Property or Trademark attorneys in training with an ordinary member, as well as Industrial Property or Trademark attorneys who do not yet have the necessary minimum years of practice may become Junior members. A Junior member may be admitted as an Ordinary member provided a request is made and the conditions of articles 6 and 7 are fulfilled.
V. Admission, resigning and striking off
Art. 12 The committee decides on the admission of ordinary and junior members, as well as on the nomination of veteran members, following this procedure: a) In case of a positive decision, the members of the association are informed so that they can raise objections or demand a decision of the general assembly, this within a month. b) In case of a negative decision, the rejection must be supported. If the committee rejects a request, the candidate may demand, within one month of the notification of the rejection of his request, that his request for admission be submitted to the decision of the next general assembly. The general assembly shall then finally decide, by a two-thirds majority of the ordinary members present, on the admission of the candidate.
Art. 13 The general assembly shall decide on the nomination of honorary members upon the request of the committee.
Art. 14 Members may resign at any time and with immediate effect.
Art. 15 May be struck off from the association anyone who:
15.1. after a warning, does not fulfil his financial obligations towards the association;
15.2. no longer fulfils the membership conditions;
15.3. is the subject of a legally-valid administrative sanction due to his professional conduct, becomes bankrupt without rehabilitation or is subject to the unsuccessful seizure of his assets;
15.4. acts contrary to the goals of the association, or repeatedly violates the statutes, regulations or codes of conduct of the association, or does not fulfil his obligations towards the association;
15.5. acts in a dishonest, irresponsible or non-collegiate manner in his professional practice; or,
15.6. as a junior member, does not fulfil the conditions to become and ordinary member after five years. The five-year deadline may be prolonged upon supported request.
Art. 16 The general assembly decides on striking off according to art. 15 by a two-thirds majority of the ordinary members present upon request of the committee.
VI. Organs of the association
Art. 17 The organs of the association are the following:
17.1. Ordinary or extraordinary general assembly of the association;
17.3. Mediation organ;
17.4. Association tribunal;
A. General assembly
Art. 18 The general assembly is the supreme organ of the association. It must be called with its agenda at least four weeks before it takes place. Should one of the members wish to add an item to the agenda, he must so request in writing from the president of the association at least two weeks before the general assembly.
Art. 19 The general assembly must be called as an ordinary general assembly at least once a year by the committee. It discusses and votes on particular on:
19.1. the president’s annual report;
19.2. the yearly accounts, the budget and the membership fees;
19.3. the discharge of the committee;
19.4. requests relating to modifications of the statutes and the dissolution of the association;
19.5. requests relating to the writing or modification of regulations and codes of conduct;
19.6. requests for admission and striking off, inasmuch as these statutes so require;
19.7. request to the association tribunal under art. 29.
Art. 20 The general assembly elects amongst the ordinary members:
20.1. the president, vice-president and other members of the committee;
20.2. the president, other members and substitute members of the association tribunal;
20.3. the representative and substitute representative of the mediation organ;
20.4. two auditors and a substitute auditor;
20.5. the delegate to FICPI and a substitute.
Art. 21 Ordinary members who are present may vote and elect. When a two-thirds majority is not expressly required by these statutes, a simple majority of votes prevails. The president participates in votes and elections; in case of equal votes, he casts the deciding vote.
Art. 22 The managing committee consists of the president, the vice-president, a treasurer, a secretary and at least one other member. Their term of office is two years. They may be re-elected. With the exception of the president and the vice-president, the committee is self-constituting.
Art. 23 The committee is in charge of all tasks that are not assigned by the statutes to the general assembly. In particular:
23.1. current affairs and preparation of the general assembly and other association events;
23.2. accounting and drawing up the budget;
23.3. care of the list of members and the website;
23.4. communication with the authorities and outside representation of the association;
23.5. nomination and dissolution of committees and delegates for particular tasks, as well as attribution of tasks and reception of reports from committees and delegates;
23.6. relations with other associations.
C. Mediation organ
Art. 24 The mediation organ may be called upon to settle disputes between members or between members and third parties. It shall only act upon request. The request must be presented to the president, who shall pass it on. The mediation organ shall try to bring the parties to an amicable agreement. It is not qualified to issue decisions.
Art. 25 If, in case of a dispute, the parties do not reach an agreement by the mediation of this organ, this last shall transfer the case to the association tribunal for a decision upon the request of one of the parties.
D. Association tribunal
Art. 26 The association tribunal consists of a president, two members and two substitute members. Members of the committee may not belong to the association tribunal.
Art. 27 The association tribunal treats complaints against members by another member of the association or a third party because of behaviour contrary to the rules of conduct. It may issue decisions intended to put an end to situations contrary to the rules of conduct and may impose association sanctions. It does not rule on other claims between parties.
Art. 28 The association tribunal is not competent in cases where the interests of the association towards one of its members are involved. Upon the request of the committee as well as upon a decision of the general assembly, the association tribunal may nevertheless examine the behaviour of a member of the association that threatens or damages the interests of the association and apply or request an appropriate association sanction.
Art. 29 According to the faults noted, the association tribunal shall pronounce a warning or a reprimand as well as, in all cases, a suspension of voting, election and eligibility rights for six months at most. Requests for longer suspensions shall be submitted by the association tribunal to the general assembly for its decision, which is not bound by the request. The association tribunal may request that the general assembly strike off a member.
Art. 30 Proceedings before the association tribunal and the replacement of members of the association tribunal in cases of recusal are ruled by a regulation to be drawn up by the general assembly.
Art 31 The auditors consist of two auditors and one substitute auditor. The auditors examine the yearly accounts, report to the general assembly and submit proposals.
VII. Finances, languages
Art. 32 The fees for ordinary and junior members shall be set each year by the general assembly according to the expected costs.
Art. 33 The yearly fees of an excluded or resigning member remain payable, respectively are not reimbursed.
Art. 34 Honorary and veteran members are not subject to yearly fees.
Art. 35 Only the assets of the association are accountable for its debts.
Art. 36 Members’ activities for the association are carried out on a volunteer basis.
Art. 37 The languages of the association are German and French, knowledge of both languages being assumed. Statutes, regulations and promotional documents are drawn up in both languages. Both languages are equally binding.
VIII. Modification of the statutes
Art. 38 Decisions concerning the dissolution of the association and the modification of statutes, regulations and codes of conduct require a two-thirds majority of ordinary members present. Such requests must be addressed to the president, who shall place them on the agenda of the next general assembly.
IX. Transitional provisions
Art. 39 Any decision made by the assemblies of the previous association that would be contradictory to these statutes is consider to be cancelled.
Art. 40 Provisions relating to conditions for being a member are not retroactive. In particular, members who belonged to the association before the entry into force of these statutes may bear the title of “ASPTA Intellectual Property Attorney” or “ASPTA Trademark Attorney”, respectively “Patentanwalt VSP” or “Markenanwalt VSP”.
Art. 41 These statutes enter into force on 27 August 2010.
Art. 42 It is stated that the Swiss Association of Patent and Trademark Attorneys succeeded to the Swiss Union of Intellectual Property Attorneys, founded on 20 October 1888. The statutes adopted on 8 May 1904 were modified on 23 February 1936, 8 July 1944, 2 December 1961, 14 January 1967, 18 January 1969, 5 April 1974, 25 March 1975, 15 January 1980, 10 March 1982, 3 May 1982, 20 January 1989, 23 May 1997, 31 March 2004 and 27 August 2010, according to the corresponding decisions made by the respective assemblies of members.