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Protection of the professional title "Patent Attorney"

The new Patent Attorney Act (PatAA), which protects the professional title of “Patent Attorney”, came into force in Switzerland on 1 July 2011. Only those able to prove that they hold specific professional qualifications may carry the title of patent attorney. The act of advising and representing clients in patent matters, however, continues to be open to everyone.
The professional title of “European Patent Attorney” is also protected. This title can be carried by those who are registered in the list of professional representatives issued by the European Patent Office (EPO).


Who may carry the professional title of “Patent Attorney”?

The title of patent attorney may be carried by a person who:

  • has gained a higher education qualification in science or engineering;
  • has an address for service in Switzerland;
  • has passed a patent attorney examination; admittance to this examination requires a minimum of three years full-time practical experience in patent matters (or part-time over a longer period) in addition to a university degree; and
  • is registered in the Patent Attorney Register. This register shows who has passed the patent attorney examination and has requested to be registered.

For those already practicing as a patent attorney prior to 1 July 2011, it is possible to be registered in the Patent Attorney Register under simplified conditions based on special transitional regulations for a period of two years. The deadline for applying expired on 30 June 2013.


The Patent Attorney Examination

An examination board, formed from the three Swiss patent attorney associations, checks whether the requirements for admittance to the Swiss Federal Patent Attorney Examination have been fulfilled and carries out the examinations. The Examination Board is also responsible for recognising foreign patent attorney examination certificates.

The Swiss Federal Patent Attorney Examination consists of four parts:

  • The first two parts correspond to the examination papers A and B of the European qualifying examination for professional representatives. These two parts must be completed within the framework of the qualifying examination carried out by the European Patent Office (EPO).
  • The third part is comprised of Swiss patent law and inter-related areas from administrative, criminal and civil proceedings.  
  • The fourth part deals with trade mark, design, copyright, competition and civil law.

Details of the Swiss Federal Patent Attorney Examination and of the procedure for having a foreign patent examination recognised are laid down in the Patent Attorney Ordinance (PatAO) and also in the Guidelines for the Patent Attorney Examination. Further information relating to the Patent Attorney Examination, such as examination dates and fees, as well as how to have a foreign patent examination recognised, can be obtained from the Examination Board.

Examination Board
Genferstrasse 33
8002 Zürich
Tel.     +41 (0)44 206 16 60
Fax.   +41 (0)44 206 16 61
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How you can be registered in the Patent Attorney Register

The Patent Attorney Register is maintained by the IPI and can be viewed on our website from 1 July 2011.

If you fulfil the requirements for carrying the professional title of patent attorney and would like to be entered in the register, then take a look at our frequently asked questions - particularly those concerning proof of professional experience working as a patent attorney - and send us your application. You can use the form Application for Entry in the Patent Attorney Register (doc 85 KB, in Germen/French/Italian). The following information is required:

  • Surname and first name,
  • Date of birth,
  • Place of origin or nationality,
  • Address for service,
  • Name of employer, if applicable.
  • In addition, the certificate verifying that the Swiss Federal Patent Attorney Examination has been passed, or the decision on the recognition of a foreign patent attorney examination, must be submitted.

Your application with accompanying documentation can be sent to us by post (Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, Patent administration, Stauffacherstrasse 65/59g, 3003 Bern) or by e-mail (patent.adminnot shown@ekomm.ipito make life hard for spam, only).

Following submission of the application, a registration fee of 200 Swiss francs is payable.