Guide for Innovative and Creative Minds



A patent is an IP right granted by the state for an invention. It gives the owner protection from another person commercially using (i.e., producing, using, selling or importing) their invention without permission for a maximum of 20 years. For example: the inventor of a ball-point pen can prevent someone else from producing ball-point pens without permission based on their patent. However, they can also allow production in return for compensation.

Legally speaking, an invention is a new solution to a technological problem. Products (such as heatable ski boots, or chemical compounds such as aspirin) and processes (such as a process for freeze-drying coffee) can be patented.

Patent protection is only valid in those countries where a patent has been granted. It expires 20 years after the filing date. Thereafter, the invention belongs to the public domain and can be used by anyone.

Good to know

  • Patented products or their packaging can be graphically identified, for example, by the federal cross and the patent number (+69255) or with information about the country in which the patent was granted (CH patent 69255). If a patent application has been filed for an invention, the symbols ‘pat.pend.’ or ‘patent pending’ can be used. It is an offence to misuse these symbols.
  • A patent does not automatically confer on its owner the right to use their invention. Other laws, such as those covering medicines or artificial reproduction, regulate whether an invention can be used. In many cases, authorisation must be obtained to use or market the product.


Further information



  • Patent database: It provides information on Swiss patents, published Swiss patent applications and European patents effective in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. You can also manage your IP rights and applications via the database.
  • You can find the same information in the IPI’s official publication organ as in the patent database. You can also search for specific publications, such as new grants and register changes.
  • The online database of the European Patent Organisation with over a million patent documents from all over the world.