The Federal Supreme Court confirms far-reaching injunctions granted in favor of the German science and technology company Merck by the Commercial Court of the Canton of Zurich against Merck’s US competitor MSD.
12 July 2023 – Merck, which is based in Darmstadt, Germany, is one of the oldest pharmaceutical and chemical companies in the world. Following World War I, its US subsidiary, which was founded in 1890, became an independent business. Since then, there have been two international businesses that use "Merck" in their company name. The US group, which had emerged from the former US subsidiary of the German Merck, is known as “MSD” outside the US and Canada. In a dispute that has been pending for about ten years before the courts of a number of countries (including Switzerland), Merck and MSD argue inter alia whether or not MSD is entitled to use "Merck" as a part of its .com addresses of various websites and social media sites. After a remand decision of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, the Commercial Court of Zurich had granted most of Merck's requests. As a consequence, MSD, inter alia, had to implement geoblocking measures on its .com internet presences containing "merck" (websites as well as the social media presences on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn) so that users from Switzerland are prevented from accessing those presences. MSD’s appeal against parts of this decision was dismissed by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in its judgement of 16 May 2023. By that, the Swiss proceedings which had been pending since 2016 have come to a successful end for Merck.
Walder Wyss represents Merck in the Swiss proceedings. Also in the proceedings before the Federal Supreme Court the team has been led by Roger Staub (Partner, IP) and included Manuel Bigler (Managing Associate, IP), Lucina Herzog (Associate, IP), Simon Mazidi (Trainee, IP), Solveig Schurti (Trainee IP) und Dennis Tobler (Trainee IP).