The IPI’s tasks are determined by the federal government. The IPI grants IP rights for patents, trade marks and designs. It also provides information on intellectual property rights to individuals and companies in a variety of ways.
The IPI is headquartered in Bern. It is responsible for intellectual property matters in Switzerland. Founded in 1888, it received its present status as an independent organisation under public law on 1 January 1996.
In terms of business structure, the IPI is autonomous, is a legal entity in its own right and is registered in the commercial register. It keeps its own accounts and is independent of the Swiss federal budget in every way.
The IPI is the centre of competence for matters relating to intellectual property rights (Art. 29, para. 1 OV-EJPD).
Its service mandate is set out in the Statute of the IPI, the details of which are specified in a service agreement with the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP). Accordingly, the IPI is responsible for drafting legislation in the field of intellectual property and advising the Federal Council and other federal authorities. The IPI also represents the interests of Switzerland at international level.
The IPI is also the first point of contact for its customers concerning industrial IP rights (trade marks, patents and designs) in Switzerland. This also applies, to some extent, to applications for international IP rights.
The IPI examines Swiss national applications, and grants and administers industrial IP rights. These ‘sovereign activities’ are regulated in special intellectual property laws (the Trade Mark Protection Act, the Patents Act and the Designs Act).
The IPI also has a duty to provide services in the fields of trade mark searches and patent information. These services are governed by private law and – unlike the administration of IP rights – are subject to VAT (see Art. 17 IGEG).
In addition, the IPI has the task of making intellectual property law matters better known in Switzerland, especially their benefits. Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), in particular, are to be made aware of the importance of actively having an IP rights policy.
This also includes making companies aware of the fact that important information is contained in their IP rights, which they can benefit from under favourable conditions.
We understand the service mandate of the IPI as follows: we want to make available an appropriate, effective, predictable and simple to use IP rights system to companies in Switzerland and abroad. This IP rights system is in the interests of the Swiss economy. We also want to create incentives for companies to leverage the use of their intangible assets and cultural goods.
- We examine, grant and administer intellectual property rights. In doing so, we must ensure that they conform to international IP rights systems. However, we also have to ensure that our national system functions autonomously. We safeguard the needs of users of the IP rights system as well as the interests of those affected and the general public.
- Our procedures should be simple, transparent, swift and as inexpensive as possible. Our decisions should be lawful, appropriate, homogeneous and therefore as predictable as possible.
- The political instances (the Federal Council and Parliament) clarify the IPI's legal mandate on a continuous basis. In the area of policy services, i.e. advising the political instances, preparing legislation and representing Switzerland at international level, the aim is to ensure an appropriate and effective protection of intellectual property at national and international level.
- This protection takes into account the diverse interests of research and development, the economy, users of the IP system, creative artists, producers, consumers and others affected by IP rights. Ethical, developmental and environmental aspects also play a role.
- At international level, Switzerland should be perceived as a competent and reliable partner for intellectual property matters.
- By providing information, we want to increase the opportunities for individuals and businesses to take advantage of the IP rights system for their own commercial success. This is why we explain the various IP rights systems at national and international level in a user-friendly way: how they function, how to use them and where to find the necessary information.
- We also provide other services, namely ip-search trade mark searches and patent information. Here, our information mandate extends to areas in which private service providers are active; the purpose, however, is the same.
Users or recipients of our services differentiate themselves through their respective role within the Swiss economy – but also through their expertise, strengths and their political legitimacy. It is our task to provide services to users that take into account their differing needs and opportunities. As the owner of the IPI, the federal government expects the IPI to be on a solid financial footing (primarily through its reserves, its risk policy and its accounting standards). Simultaneously, we are expected to reduce costs, increase productivity and – as far as possible and appropriate – keep fees low.
The IPI places great important on quality of service. We regularly check the quality of our services, for example to shorten the response time for applications and queries, to improve procedures and, where possible, to reduce the cost of IP rights and services.
The following list includes tips on further reading related to the IPI.
Fostering the development of medicinal products for paediatric use – consultation on the partial revision of the Patents Ordinance