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Changes to Swiss Patent Law in 2024

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 21 December 2023
Changes to Swiss Patent Law in 2024

The Swiss Patent Act is to be amended according to the will of the Council of States. The aim is to make it more attractive for small and medium-sized enterprises and inventors in particular.

The small chamber approved a corresponding bill on Thursday by 35 votes to 0 with no abstentions. The matter will now go to the National Council.

Under current law, the Swiss patent procedure does not assess whether a particular invention is actually new, unlike the procedures in many other countries. The validity of a Swiss patent therefore remains uncertain.

Swiss Patent Detour

Until now, anyone who was not satisfied with such a patent had to take the detour via a fully examined European patent extended to Switzerland. The Federal Council wants to change this with the revision. Such a detour is costly and time-consuming, it wrote in November when adopting the dispatch to Parliament.

In future, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) is to carry out a search for every patent application, according to the draft. This should clarify the state of the art in the relevant field.

The revision of patent law is based on a proposal from the Council of States. The small chamber now followed the Federal Council’s proposals by a large majority during its deliberations. However, unlike the government, the Council of States does not want a right of appeal for associations against decisions on patents. Instead, it proposes a right of appeal for third parties under certain conditions.

Matthias Michel (FDP/ZG) said that the solution found was simpler from the point of view of the preliminary consultation committee. It would also not privilege any particular organizations.

Reservations regarding shorter deadlines

Maya Graf (Greens/BL) argued that the Federal Council’s proposal would restrict rights compared to the current legal situation. This was not desirable, especially when it came to patents in the field of biotechnology. However, she expressed reservations about the shorter deadlines in the new appeal procedure and the costs of appeals. These points should be taken up again by the National Council.

Justice Minister Elisabeth Baume-Schneider made it clear that the proposal of the Council of States committee also seemed balanced to the Federal Council. She therefore decided not to hold a vote.

©Keystone/SDA

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