Patents: The protection afforded by a patent

A patent protects technical inventions – provided they are new and have not yet been made public.

A patent makes it possible to protect technical inventions, notably products (movements, functional textiles, chemical substances, etc.) and processes (food drying processes, cleaning processes, etc.).

Prohibition on commercial use

The holder of a patent may prohibit any third party from making commercial use of their invention (they may, for example, have the manufacture and sale of protected products prohibited), for a maximum of 20 years in countries where the invention has been protected. In return, the invention must be made public in the patent.

Conditions to be met

Registration of a patent must meet the following conditions:

  • Among other things, the invention must be new and not stem obviously from the state of the art.
  • To satisfy the criterion of novelty, the invention should not in any way have been presented to the public anywhere in the world before the filing of the patent registration application. Anyone wanting to have their invention patented is therefore recommended to maintain confidentiality about that invention until the application is filed.

Other options

There are alternatives to patents:

  • When an invention is not recognizable from the end product, it is possible to maintain manufacturing secrecy.
  • If you do not want to protect your invention but would still like to prevent any third parties from patenting it, you have the option of publishing it, for example, on publication platforms. It would thus lose its novelty, and may no longer be patented.

You are advised to consult a patent advisor to choose the protection strategy and formulate the patent (Patent Attorney).


As the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) does not verify whether the invention satisfies the criterion of novelty when assessing the patent application, the person filing the application should handle this themselves, for example, by means of a search on Espacenet or an assisted search with the IPI, possibly with the help of a patent advisor.

Even persons not filing a patent application should ensure that realization of their innovations does not infringe patents in force registered by other persons. Searches conducted by experts help highlight the risk of infringement.


Fees for registration and examination of a Swiss patent total CHF 700, according to the IPI (2015 figures). Other costs may be added. The holder of a patent must then pay annuities, which total CHF 100 from the fourth year, and then increase by CHF 50 every year, up to CHF 900 in the 20th year (How much does patent protection cost?).

Scenarios in which protection is excluded

It is not possible to use a patent to protect the following: discoveries, scientific theories, competition rules, learning methods, commercial practices, surgical or therapeutic treatment methods and diagnosis methods, vegetable varieties and animal breeds.


Last modification 17.08.2021

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