Should patent examination in Switzerland be adapted to international standards by examining applications for novelty and inventive step?
The motion "In favour of a modern Swiss patent" (available in German, French and Italian), submitted by Councillor of States Thomas Hefti in March 2019, proposes just this. A utility model without a substantive examination should be introduced as a more cost-effective alternative for applicants who do not wish to have a full patent examination. The motion also calls for an extended opposition procedure.
The Federal Council acknowledges the results of the consultation (in German, in French, in Italian) on the partial revision of the Patents Act at its meeting of 18 August 2021. Modernising the patent examination procedure was, in principle, welcomed in the consultation. The Federal Council now wants to take account of the criticism voiced in individual areas by modifying the contents of the draft bill. It has mandated the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) to draft a dispatch on the partial revision of the Patents Act with the following key points by the end of 2022:
- Forgo the introduction of a utility model
- Make the patent examination more flexible by providing an optional examination of all patentability requirements including novelty and inventive step
- Increase legal certainty through a compulsory patent search for all patent applications
- Abandon opposition proceedings and simultaneously expand the possibilities for appeal
- Appoint the Federal Patent Court (FPatC) as the appeal authority against IPI decisions instead of the Federal Administrative Court (FAC)
The IPI will now prepare such a draft including a dispatch for the attention of Parliament.
The Federal Council opened its consultation procedure on the partial revision of the Patents Act at its meeting of 14 October 2020. The consultation will run until 1 February 2021.
Following the adoption of the motion by the Federal Council on 29 May 2019, the Council of States then approved the motion on 4 June 2019 and the National Council on 12 December 2019. The IPI, as the competent federal authority, is now preparing a preliminary draft and the explanatory report on the Patents Act revision.
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