Guide for Innovative and Creative Minds


No protection for...

The following are not patentable:

  • Ideas, concepts, discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods
  • Rules for games, lottery systems, teaching methods and organisational flow charts
  • Diagnostics, 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 a new plant variety can be protected under plant variety protection.
  • Forms (these can be protected as designs or under copyright)
  • 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

  • The patent examination guidelines in French (pdf) Chapter 2, page 17 or German (pdf) Chapter 2, page 15, contain 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)