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Patent – first steps
What is a patent?
A patent is a protective right granted by the federal government for a technical invention. Invention, in the legal sense, is a solution to a technical problem. Inventions include products (e.g., heatable ski boots, or chemical compounds such as aspirin) and processes (e.g., a process for freeze-drying coffee). If an invention is novel, non-obvious to a person skilled in the art and can be commercially applied (useful) it is patentable.
Advantages of patent protection
Owning a patent gives you the exclusive right to prevent others from commercially using your invention for up to 20 years. During this period you can prohibit others from using it - i.e., producing, using, selling or importing - without your permission. This makes it possible to recoup the money invested in the development and to make a profit. In return you are required to provide an exact description of the invention and to disclose it to the public. This provides researchers with an important source of information for further development.
A few facts
- Fees for a patent are CHF 200 for filing and CHF 500 for the examination. Four years after the date of filing, yearly renewal fees are CHF 100 for the 4th year.
For each subsequent year, the annual fee encreases by CHF 50 (CHF 150 for the 5th year, CHF 200 for the 6th year, etc. up to CHF 900 for the 20th year).
(as of 1 January 2014)
- The material examination for a patent usually takes place three to four years after a patent has been applied for. An expedited procedure is available for those who wish to have their patent granted more quickly. Further information.
- The priority deadline begins as of the date of filing. That means you have exactly twelve months to apply for a patent abroad claiming the filing date of the first Swiss application.
Good to know
- Keep your invention secret until you’ve applied!
To be patentable, an invention must be novel. This means it must never have been seen in any form by the public before you apply. So don’t tell coworkers about it or show it at an exhibition too early.
- Assess the novelty of your invention
- Find out whether your invention is new because novelty is not examined in the Swiss grant procedure.
- You can carry out initial research yourself: via search engines on the internet, in patent databases such as Espacenet or swissreg, in technical literature, in product catalogues and at trade fairs.
- You can also make an initial assessment in an Assisted Patent Search with us in Bern. Together with a patent expert, you search in professional patent databases and thus obtain an initial overview of the state of the art with regard to your invention.
- As soon as you have applied for a patent for your invention, you can request a professional Prior Art Search for a Swiss Patent Application in order to have the novelty of the innovation evaluated.
- For more detailed searches, you can contact a specialist.
- Consult a patent attorney.
For novices, applying for a patent correctly is a complex task. We recommend consulting a patent attorney.
Documents and other information
- Invent, Produce, Market: What roles do patents, trademarks, designs and copyrights play in the process of innovation? See our Guide for Innovative and Creative Minds.
- Our pocket-sized guide, «Envisioned. Created. Protected.» gives an overview of the essentials of intellectual property rights. You can download it as a pdf (1.48 MB), or order it free of charge.
- To find out what the procedure is for applying for a patent, read CH Registration or order our guideline “Patent applications” (in German, French, Italian) free of charge.
- Frequently asked questions