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Spotlight: organization and marketing of sporting events in Switzerland

By September 8, 2022September 10th, 2022Sports events

All the questions

Marketing of sports events

i Types of rights and ownership of rights

Swiss law offers a wide variety of commercial rights related to sport. In addition to sponsorship and outreach, event organizers may enter into contractual agreements related to merchandising, hospitality, ticketing and insurance.

The broadcasting of an event can be done in different ways (full event or key moments, broadcast by satellite, cable, internet, etc.). The contracts concluded must therefore always define precisely the rights that the buyer can exploit. This is a particularly sensitive area, as it is subject to constant and rapid technical developments, while broadcasting contracts are often signed several years before the event in question.

The negotiation of broadcasting rights can be done individually, with each interested television channel or with groups of channels, such as the European Broadcasting Union (EBU),80 or even through specialized agents.81

In Switzerland, the Swiss broadcasting company, SSR82 offers a wide variety of free-to-air sporting events. A wider range of sporting events are available on a pay-TV basis from other broadcasters.

Sponsorship allows companies to associate their name with a sport (via its governing bodies), a sporting event, an athlete or a team.83 Under Swiss law, the sponsorship contract is a sui generis contract, or even a mixed contract, which uses elements of several nominative contracts.84 It must therefore be drafted in the clearest and most explicit manner possible in order to minimize the risk of litigation.

Merchandising, hospitality, ticketing and insurance involve a multitude of partners and contractual arrangements.

Within this contractual framework, the intellectual property rights must be suitably secured and transferred.

ii Protection of rightsImage rights

Image rights are part of personality rights and are protected against unlawful infringements by articles 13 of the Cst and 28 and following. of CC. Protection is to some extent limited for athletes, who are considered public figures.

However, any commercialization of image rights requires the consent of the athlete.85 Marketing without consent allows the athlete to seek legal protection from the offending party, including a cease and desist order and to seek damages.86


Swiss copyright law is governed by the Federal Copyright Act (LDA) and its implementing ordinance. It protects the authors of literary, artistic and scientific works and software.87

The author (or the exclusive licensee) has the exclusive right to exploit the work without the need for a specific registration.88 It may invoke copyright infringement in civil or criminal proceedings, or both, except as provided by the LDA.89 In an emergency, interim measures may be requested.90 Damages are calculated in accordance with tort law,91 profit account92 or unjust enrichment.93

Sporting events are in principle not protected by copyright because they do not constitute works within the meaning of the LDA.94 However, recordings of sporting events may be considered works within the meaning of the LDA if they have an individual character.95


The applicable trademark law in Switzerland is the Trademark Protection Act and its related ordinance.

Swiss trademarks can be registered online by filing an application with the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI).96 An international extension can then be sought from the World Intellectual Property Organization.97

Registration allows the owner to prohibit third parties from using similar marks for similar goods or services and to preserve his rights in the event of unauthorized use of a mark in the context of civil or criminal proceedings. , or both.98

Trademarks are generally used to designate specific sporting competitions and events.