IP and Innovation

A well-functioning system for protecting intellectual property increases the attractiveness of an economic location in terms of innovation and promotes sustainable economic growth. As an innovation and export country, Switzerland is dependent on adequate and enforceable protection of intellectual property (IP).


How important is protecting intellectual property for innovation?

  • Adequate and effective protection of intellectual property encourages innovation.
  • Protecting IP is an important incentive for the large investments in work and capital that are needed to develop innovative products and services. It is the prerequisite for a functioning innovation cycle.
  • Intellectual property protects innovators from free riders that use the work of innovative entrepreneurs and companies, creative artists and authors without making any financial contribution.
  • A company uses different intellectual property rights at various stages in the innovation cycle along the way to developing a new product.
  • The patent on inventions plays an important role already in basic research. It assures the inventor an exclusive right to use the patent (limited to 20 years). The invention must be entered into the patent register promptly while it is still novel and undisclosed.
  • During the product development and marketing phase, the protection of the design and the trade mark can be of central importance.
  • Protecting intellectual property enables an innovative company to reinvest the income from sales and licensing into ongoing development and new products.
  • Intellectual property is therefore a foundation for a functioning innovation cycle. It is a supporting element, from the first idea through the development and successful implementation to the final marketing of products and services. It promotes sustainable economic growth.
  • Switzerland’s innovative and export-oriented economy is dependent on effective and predictable protection of intellectual property at home and abroad.

How does the IPI contribute to protecting innovation?

  • As the Swiss Confederation’s centre of competence for intellectual property rights, we are a pillar of the Swiss economic and innovative landscape. We work at the national and international level for adequate, effective and economically sensible protection of intellectual property.
  • We work towards improved innovation protection in bilateral and multilateral negotiations.
  • Expanding free trade requires the improved protection of the intellectual property behind the innovative products and services that are to be traded. We ensure that the free trade agreements contain a substantial chapter on protecting intellectual property.
  • We work closely with the international organisations responsible for intellectual property, such as the European Patent Office (EPO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Union Intellectual property Office (EUIPO).
  • In the WTO/TRIPS councils, Switzerland regularly presents “IP and Innovation” on the agenda along with other member states. Each year since 2012, the TRIPS Council has addressed three sub-topics under this agenda item, such as fostering IP and innovation through regional innovation models, strategies for low-emission technologies, technology partnerships with universities, etc. In 2017, the TRIPS Council addressed the benefit of IP for SMEs within the context of trade, development and growth. In October 2017, the IPI additionally drafted a communication to the TRIPS Council in cooperation with the Swiss mission in Geneva, and with a group of like-minded WTO members jointly organised a panel discussion. The discussions in the Council and the panel discussions within the framework of the WTO contribute to a constructive debate over how significant IP and the protection of innovation is for the economy and society.
    All topics on IP and innovation dealt with in the TRIPS Council, as well as links to the contributions made by individual WTO members, including Switzerland, can be found on the WTO’s website.
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