Guide for Innovative and Creative Minds


No protection for

These things are not patentable:

  • Ideas, concepts, discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods
  • Rules for games, lottery systems, teaching methods and organizational flow charts
  • Diagnostic, therapies and surgery procedures used for humans or animals
  • Plant varieties, animal breeds, and other primarily biological procedures for breeding plants or animals (However, biotechnological inventions, such as extracting human insulin from yeast cells, are patentable. The cultivation of new plant variety can be protected under plant variety protection.)
  • Forms (These can be protected as designs or under copyrights.)
  • Computer programs as such (these come under copyright). However, inventions which depend on a computer program are patentable (e.g., electronic steering)
  • Inventions, the application of which would go against public morality or law (e.g., procedures for cloning humans)

Good to know

  • Many things which are not patentable in other countries can be patented in the United States of America because of a different approach. The US Patent and trade mark Office (, for example, grants patents for computer programs and business methods.

Further information

  • Patent examination guidelines in French (pdf) Chapter 2, page 17 or German (pdf) Chapter 2, page 15, contains a list of all the things which cannot be patented as well as further information regarding patenting computer implemented inventions.
  • Federal Act on New Plant Varieties (in German)