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Transfer, assignment and licensing

Transfer and assignment

What rules, restrictions and procedures govern the transfer and assignment of copyright? Are any formalities required to secure the legal effect of the transfer or assignment?

Under Swiss law copyright can be transferred collectively or in part. No formalities are applicable.

Moral rights are, in principle, not transferable, but the rights holder can waive them to enforce his or her moral rights.


What rules, restrictions and procedures govern copyright licensing?

Copyright can be licensed without restrictions. The content of a licence depends on the mutual agreement of the licensor and the licensee. The ordinary rules pertaining to contracts apply.

According to the Copyright Act, the holder of an exclusive licence has standing to sue against infringers, unless the licensing agreement excludes such a possibility.

Are there any special provisions governing sub-licensing?

In principle, the licensee is not entitled to grant sub-licences, unless the licensing agreement provides for such a right. Some scholars argue that in certain circumstances (eg, exclusive licence), the licensee should be entitled to grant sub-licences, even if the agreement does not provide for such a possibility. 

What collective licensing bodies operate in your jurisdiction and how are their activities regulated?

In Switzerland, five collective licensing bodies have been incorporated. They are supervised by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. The rights holders join the licensing bodies and assign some of their rights to receive statutory licences to the collective licensing bodies. The bodies collect and enforce the statutory licences. The amount of the royalties is established by the collective licensing bodies and approved by a special arbitral commission. The monies collected by the collective licensing bodies are distributed to the rights holders in accordance with a regulation, which has to be approved by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property.

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