Guide for Innovative and Creative Minds


Define your strategy

How do you want to protect and defend your intellectual property long-term? Weigh the costs and advantages and define an IP protection strategy. Decide what you want to protect, in which countries, for how long, whether and how you want to monitor your IP rights, how you can defend them, and, just in case, how you want to assign them (e.g. sell or license them).

Here are a few questions you should think about:

  • What do you want to protect? Invention, trade mark, or design? Or all three simultaneously? Do you want to patent the opening mechanism for an umbrella? Protect the form of the handle or the pattern of the fabric as a design? Or do you want to register the name of the umbrella as a trade mark?
  • How do you want to protect your invention?
    • You can keep the invention secret,
      which is, to a certain extent, a cheap, permanent form of protection. However, someone else could discover your solution and use it freely.
    • You can protect the invention with a patent.
      As a patent owner, you can commercially use your invention and prohibit others from the economic utilisation (e.g., production, sale, or import) of your invention for a maximum of 20 years. This allows you to recoup the money you invested in development and to make a profit. In return, so to speak, you must accurately describe your invention and disclose it (in Switzerland, inventions are electronically published on 18 months after the date of filing, or, if applicable, the priority date). Patent protection promotes technological progress by allowing the state of the art of a technology to be disseminated. Others can freely access the knowledge and use it as a starting point for advancing their own research. Whatever is not published in the patent application and thus kept secret is not protected.
    • Or, you can publish an invention without patenting it.
      This prevents someone else from obtaining a viable patent for your invention. When an invention has already been published, it is no longer considered novel and thus is not patentable.
  • In which countries do you want to protect your intellectual property? Which markets are feasible and interesting for your product? Are you prepared to enforce your rights in these countries?

We recommend that you consult a specialist (patent or trade mark attorney) to develop an effective IP strategy.

Good to know

  • There is another form of defence against counterfeiting that doesn't involve patent, trade mark, or design rights: manufacturers are also protected against counterfeiting under the Federal Act on Unfair Competition. This law protects primarily against business conduct which is contrary to good faith practices or immoral. Acts which are considered unfair and illegal are things such as deceiving and misleading consumers. The unfair competition law can be used to proceed against counterfeiting and imitation (Federal Law on Unfair Competition, in German)


Further information