For medicinal products and plant protection products, approval or official authorisation must be obtained (from Swissmedic, the Federal Veterinary Office or the Federal Office for Agriculture, for example) before they can be used commercially. This authorisation procedure can sometimes take up to ten years, during which time the term of protection for the associated patent is already running. Therefore, to compensate for this situation, it is possible to request a supplementary protection certificate (SPC). The term of protection of the SPC begins as soon as the maximum term of protection (20 years) of the patented active ingredient expires. An SPC extends protection for up to a further five years.
For an SPC to be granted, the following criteria must be fulfilled:
- SPCs can only be granted on the basis of a valid patent and official authorisation or approval.
An SPC must be requested within six months from:
- the first official authorisation or approval in Switzerland; or
- the grant of the patent if this is granted later than the first official authorisation or approval.
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