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)).
Switzerland maintains its position as innovation world champion even in COVID times
Second online workshop CIPCO/IPI ‘Legal framework of intellectual property for AI - technical and economic aspects’ on 13 September 2021
Modernising the patent examination procedure
Swiss producers to benefit from better international protection for geographical indications
Swiss Innovation Forum 2020 to be held as an online festival