Disclosure of source


Switzerland's proposals concerning the disclosure of source of genetic resources (GRs) and traditional knowledge (TK) in patent applications

In 2007, Switzerland submitted to the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), a summary of proposals (PDF 204 KB) concerning the disclosure of source of GRs and TK in patent applications. The two annexes also contain the text of the proposed amendments to the Regulations of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and a list of Switzerland's previous submissions on the topics of disclosure of source of GRs and TK in patent applications.

With regard to this topic, Switzerland submitted its first proposal (PDF 75 KB) to the WIPO in May 2003. With this contribution of specific proposals, Switzerland continued its active and constructive participation in the international discussions on access to GRs and TK, and on the sharing of benefits arising from their use (also known as access and benefit sharing, ABS) (Press release of 6 June 2003 in German and French; PDF, 61 KB).  
One year later, Switzerland made another submission (PDF, 222 KB), with regard to terminology issues, the concept of 'source' of GRs and TK, the scope of the obligation to disclose this source and the legal sanctions for breaching the disclosure obligation. Switzerland also presented this submission, addressed to the Working Group on PCT Reform, to the TRIPS Council on 14 June 2004 (Document IP/C/W/423).

In October 2004, Switzerland presented a further submission (PDF 138 KB) to the Working Group on PCT Reform, which was also sent to the TRIPS Council on 25 November 2004 (Document IP/C/W/433). The submission dealt with the formal and substantive nature of the disclosure requirement, an optional versus mandatory introduction of it at national level as well as the concept of 'source'.


Disclosure requirement in the Swiss Patents Act

The proposals, which Switzerland introduced at international level, have also been implemented at national level. Article 49a of the Patents Act (PatA) obliges the patent applicant to provide information regarding the source of GRs and TK in their patent application. This obligation also applies to international applications under Art. 138 PatA. A sanction in the form of a fine and the publication of the judgment for intentional violations is provided for under Art. 81a PatA.

Finally, in February 2010, Switzerland submitted to the IGC, a proposal regarding the disclosure requirement in the Patents Act (Document WIPO/GRTKF/IC/16/INF/14 pdf).


Legal basis

Patents Act (PDF)

Dispatch (German, French or Italian; explanations on disclosure of source on p. 80-83; PDF.)