Ideas, as such, cannot be protected, however, under certain conditions the concrete form of the idea can be:
- Technical solutions to a problem can be protected by a patent (e.g., heatable ski boots)
- The name of a product or a logo can be protected by registering a trade mark (e.g., Ricola)
- A product form can be protected by depositing a design (e.g., Colani bottle)
- Literary works, art and computer programs are protected by copyrights
An idea alone is not patentable, but the exact instructions for arriving at the solution to a technical problem are. The realization of the idea must be accurately described.
Discoveries, aesthetic forms, and business systems are not considered inventions in Switzerland and thus cannot be patented. A discovery refers to finding something which already exists and simply describing it, or, in other words, an invention expands the technical possibilities of mankind while a discovery only expands our knowledge.
More examples of what is not patentable is under «What is an invention».
Good to know
- Computer programs, as such, are not patentable, but, inventions based on such programs are (for example, electronic steering). More information on computer-based inventions can be found on page 14 of our patent examination guidelines (available in German (pdf) and French (pdf)).
Roundtable on the protection of computer-implemented inventions