Study shows that points of contact for Swiss inventors and creatives score highly
How well are Swiss SMEs informed and supported when they have questions about protecting their IP? A study has concluded that the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) performs well, together with other points of contact for SMEs – known as intermediaries. However, the authors also see potential for improvement.
Switzerland is a country of inventors. Start-ups and SMEs reinforce this reputation with their innovations and creative achievements. Intellectual property and its protection is a key piece of the puzzle for a company on the path to success. It is only when a SME knows how to manage their intellectual assets and how to protect their own innovations that they are able to make strategic and groundbreaking decisions for the company.
Study examines services offered
If innovative and creative SMEs have a question about protecting their intellectual property (IP), they generally turn to institutions they are familiar with such as regional innovation funding agencies or cantonal chambers of commerce. This also includes Innosuisse, Venturelab and patent attorneys. These intermediaries advise SMEs intending to apply for trade marks, patents and designs and therefore act as the interface between the enterprises and the IPI. The IPI, the authority responsible for the registration of IP rights, also offers services which inform innovators about the IP rights system.
But how helpful are these services? The IPI commissioned a study to find out. The key questions were:
- What are the needs of the above-mentioned intermediaries when collaborating with the IPI?
- What services do trade mark and patent offices in other countries offer that Switzerland could take inspiration from?
Satisfied SMEs and intermediaries
According to the authors of the study, intermediaries and SMEs are generally satisfied with the IP services landscape. One of the intermediaries’ main needs is information on intellectual property – either for themselves or for SMEs. For the mediating authorities, it is equally important to have a contact person to whom they can refer SMEs for their IP needs. Intermediaries who receive IP-related enquiries from SMEs usually refer them to the IPI.
With regard to the services provided by the IPI, the assisted patent search services perform particularly well. “It is easily accessible and offers advantages for both researchers and SMEs as well as intermediaries,” the study found. SMEs’ knowledge of intellectual property continues to vary but the study says that the level of knowledge has improved. Patents, trade marks, trade secrets, IP strategy and IP in collaborations are listed as the most important topics. The study found that all types of intermediaries are being called upon and that the IPI is known by SMEs.
Planned expansion of services/potential for improvement
Those surveyed identified room for improvement in various areas. In terms of collaborations, there is potential for closer and/or new collaborations between the IPI and the SME intermediaries in certain cases. The IPI’s existing information services are valued. The wish was expressed for more activity on social media, in particular LinkedIn and YouTube. In addition, there is a strong need for information on the topic of IP strategy. The IPI has therefore drafted a checklist, which is an initial help for SMEs and start-ups drafting an IP strategy. The IPI also offers a checklist for the licensing of IP rights. It is also recommended that the IPI step up communication about IP and innovation on digital channels and modernise the provision of basic information and services.
- Checklist: IP strategy and licensing
Harmonisation and partial revision of guidelines as of 1 July 2023
Conference on Intellectual Property & Sustainability at the University of Geneva
Symposium: "Best practices in the fight against counterfeiting & piracy – NFTs not your cup of tea? Well, they should: NFTs as a new way of fighting counterfeiting and piracy"