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For the legal enforcement of technical potential.

Patent attorneys support you in protecting your innovation against emulators. A patent attorney recognizes the nature of your invention and translates its essence into precisely formulated patent claims that finally define the scope of protection of your invention. 

A patent attorney

  • supports you in disputes and outlines options and strategies for optimally asserting your interests against any challenge;
  • advises you on the correct application of expedient industrial property rights as well as on how to devise an optimal strategy for the protection of your innovative work;
  • gives you an advantage over your competitors;
  • helps you recognize and assess any risk exposure resulting from your competitors' industrial property rights.

The patent attorney is the central point of contact for the legal protection of industrial property rights.

Patent attorneys advise clients on inventions, designs, trademarks, know-how as well as on how to protect software products and plant varieties. Patent attorneys represent clients before the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, the European Patent Office and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). They work in support of any related application and examination processes before the pertinent authorities. Relying on their worldwide contacts with foreign consultants and other patent attorneys, patent attorneys coordinate application and examination processes abroad.

A patent attorney's main activities include:

  • Filing applications for the protection of any type of proprietary industrial rights, domestically and internationally;
  • Drafting expert opinions, oppositions, nullity claims, cancellation suits, objections and third-party submissions;
  • Administering industrial property rights (monitoring of deadlines, payment of fees, etc.);
  • Prosecuting infringements and defending against attacks on industrial property rights (in collaboration with legal specialists);
  • Evaluating the industrial property rights of third parties and any collision risks;
  • Researching prior art;
  • Handling the official registration of transfers of industrial property rights;
  • Advising on contract-related matters, specifically licensing agreements.

The patent attorney acts as an interface between technology, law and business.

Patent attorneys are university graduates in science or engineering, for example, with degrees in Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Engineering. In a supplementary course of study, patent attorneys acquire expert knowledge in intellectual property law, specifically patent law. European patent attorneys are licensed to practice before the European Patent Office.

Also in Switzerland, a patent attorney is the person to contact if you want to protect your invention. He or she can represent you before national and regional patent offices. Please browse through the sub-categories on the left for more information.

The title „patent attorney“ is legally protected in Switzerland since July 1, 2011. The titles „Patentanwalt“, „Patentanwältin“, „patent attorney", „conseil en brevets“ or „consulente in brevetti" can be worn by a person who meets certain conditions defined in the law. The titles „European patent attorney", „consulente in brevetti europei", „europäische Patentanwältin", „europäischer Patentanwalt" or "european patent attorney" can only be worn by a person on the list of professional representatives maintained by the European Patent Office.

Besides the actual patent administration, the protection of technology and patent positions play an important role in the IP management of a company. The own R&D activities of a company constitute one of the most essential sources for the own patent portfolio as well as for the evaluation of the own technology position compared to competitors, whereby such evaluation should be reasonably conducted corresponding to the different business units.

Professional patent administration requires also that a company, alongside its own patents, knows the other intellectual property rights in the respective business segment (especially of its most important competitors). The necessary information thereto may be obtained on the basis of the monitoring of the legal status of the patents concerned.

Important conclusions may be drawn from the technology as well as patent positions established that way. The technology and patent positions also allow for the reasonable coordination of both positions.

Rentsch Partner Ltd., thanks to the use of advanced technology and know-how, is able to professionally administrate and efficiently manage extensive patent portfolios.

Once a patent is granted, it should be administered and exploited. Patent administration deals primarily with the monitoring and execution of all actions that are necessary for the maintenance of the patent, including, in particular, the payment of any annual renewal fees.

In the context of patent management, all opportunities should be used to profitably exploit a granted patent, by the patent owner himself or by third parties (licenses, patent sale etc.).

Rentsch Partner Ltd., with their experience and know-how, are able to professionally administrate extensive patent portfolios.

After a successful patent application, the granted patent needs to be secured and if necessary to be legally enforced.

In the European patent system, within nine months everybody can file an opposition against grant of an European patent. The grounds for opposition are specified in Article 100 EPC. The opposition procedure is quite inexpensive, compared to a nullity action before a national civil court. Since all parties have to carry their own costs, independent of the outcome of the case, the opposition procedure furthermore comprises only a very limited financial risk.

After the expiration of the nine months opposition period, the European patent cannot be attacked any longer in one central procedure. A third party may then have to make use of the different legal measures provided by the applicable national legislations, such as nullity actions. Since these procedures are in most cases expensive and longsome, it is of utmost importance to attack (potentially) troublesome European patents using the central and inexpensive opposition procedure. If necessary a European patent application may already have to be monitored in the examination phase, in order to know as early as possible the date of grant and the end of the opposition period.

Since 1 July 2008 the Swiss patent law comprises the possibility of an opposition against a granted Swiss patent. Everybody may file an opposition, within nine months after the registration of the grant of the patent. However, the opposition may only be based on the fact that the object of the patent is excluded from patentability under Art. 1a, 1b, or 2 Swiss Patent Statute. For example a patent may not contravene public order or morale. Specifically excluded objects are for example parts of the human body in their natural surroundings. Essentially the aim of the Swiss opposition procedure is to provide an inexpensive way to attack patents that contravene public interests.

No ground during examination or opposition is, however, lack of novelty or inventive step. If somebody wishes to take action against an invalid Swiss patent, he thus will still have to file a civil nullity action with the Federal Patent Court.

In a Swiss examination procedure, the first step of the registration procedure covers the formal examination of the patent application. Subsequently in the substantial examination the authority examines, if the patent application complies with the requirements according to Articles 1, 1a and 2 of the LPI (technical teaching, invention applicable in industry, sufficient disclosure, unity and clarity. If all conditions for the grant of a patent are met, a patent is granted. Grant of the patent is registered it in the Patent Register and published. The applicant receives a patent certificate.

The formal steps for the registration procedure according to the EPC are comparable with those of the Swiss procedure, whereby after passing the formal examination the European search report is established. The search report is published afterwards together with the patent application. Contrary to the Swiss registration procedure the criteria "novelty" and "inventive step" are substantially examined during the registration procedure. After the publication of the grant of the European patent in the European Patent Bulletin, the registration in the applicable national registers is carried out.

In order to obtain a patent, the applicant has to file a patent application at the competent authority. The formal requirements are quite similar worldwide.

For example, a Swiss patent application is required to include:

  1. a request for the grant of the patent
  2. a description of the invention
  3. one or more patent claims
  4. if applicable the drawings to which the description or claims refer
  5. an abstract

Upon receipt of the patent application, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property examines within the receiving inspection if the formal legal requirements are fulfilled in order to assign filing date. The same applies for European patent applications.

Patents for inventions are only granted if the invention is new and based on an inventive step. The basis for the evaluation of novelty and inventive step is given by the state of the art at the time of the filing of the patent application (search).

In the Swiss procedure, the above-mentioned criteria of novelty and inventive step are not examined. However, a non-compulsory official search may be applied for.

For European patent applications the European Patent Office examines ex officio if the conditions for granting a patent with respect to “novelty” and “inventive step” are fulfilled. The European search report includes a first opinion of the responsible patent examiner with respect to this criteria.

An carefully conducted patent search, as well as its appropriate consideration when marking off the scope of protection, form an essential basis of a legally valid and enforceable patent.

Various international treaties, in particular the European Patent Convention (EPC) and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), allow for the registration of a patent in different ways. The following aspects should be considered when deciding on the specific patent application strategy: 

  1. Existing patents in the relevant area of the invention (result of a patent search)
  2. Market and competition situation in the respective area of the invention in consideration of technical, commercial and territorial aspects
  3. Determination of what shall be protected by the invention (process and/or product patent)
  4. Stage of development of the invention (existence of an idea only or of a prototype already?)
  5. Availability of funds
  6. Mode of utilisation of the patent (utilisation by the patent owner, sale of the granted patent, licensing etc.)

All these aspects and further issues should be discussed in detail together with a patent attorney.

Various international treaties, in particular the European Patent Convention (EPC) and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), allow for filing patent applications in different ways. Subsequent you will be informed about the most important issues as well as about the registration procedure in general.

Software and computer programs respectively are protected by copyright law. However, the copyright protects the implementation, namely the program code, and not the method forming the basis of the computer program. Without infringing copyright law, it is thus possible to effect the same method with a different program code, or to reprogram the functionality of the software.

It would be obvious to protect software with patents. Patents protect technical inventions, thus new and non-obvious solutions of technical problems. By principle, computer programs as such cannot be patented under European law. A word processor software as such, for example, does not solve a technical problem and therefore is excluded from patentability. However, the situation is different if a computer program is used to solve a technical problem, for example with respect to control of a technical process. Such a "computer-implemented invention" may be patentable under European patent law.

The European Patent Convention (EPC) is an international treaty between European countries.

For the Contracting States, the EPC establishes a European Patent Organisation ("EPO") and a uniform system for the filing and grant of patents. Such "European Patents" have in each of the Contracting States the effect of a national patent granted by that State, and is subject to the same national conditions (cf. Article 2 para 2 EPC).

The procedure in case of an infringement of a European Patent follows the national legal system of the Contracting State concerned.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international treaty and provides the possibility to file one single patent application (an "international" patent application) that has the same effect as a national patent application in more than 120 States, instead of filing multiple national or regional patent applications. Only after a delay of at least 30 months, the national or regional procedures are to be started in the desired States or regions. Within this period, the applicant receives an official opinion regarding patentability of the invention and has time to decide whether and in which countries respectively he wants to enter the national or regional phase. Accordingly, the prosecution costs in the desired States or regions are delayed.

The most important regulations on the Swiss patent law can be found in the Federal Law on Patents for Inventions, and the Federal Ordinance on Patents for Inventions. Further the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property has issued Guidelines for Patent Examination, which are published in German and French only. Although not having a binding effect for third parties outside the Institute, the guidelines deliver insight in the patent application process and the procedures of the Institute.

In most countries, patent law distinguishes between different categories of patent claims. Article 52 of the Federal Law on Patents for Inventions ("LPI") contains a list of different categories of patent claims. Effectively the law differentiates between method claims  and product claims.

This fundamental distinction is not a mere theory: On one hand the protection granted by a patent depends on the category of the patent claim. On the other hand Article 67 LPI states the for practice important presumption that, if the patent concerns a method for the manufacture of a new product, every product of the same composition shall be presumed to have been made according to the patented method until proof to the contrary has been provided.

In most European countries, patent law requires that an invention has to have a technical nature. This requirement is not fulfilled in particular if the patent application or the patent is limited to discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods; aesthetic creations; schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers; or presentation of information.

Especially in the areas of computer programs, (aesthetic) creations as well as the presentation of information there might be problems of differentiation. Thus the jurisdiction and the practice of the respective patent offices should be considered.

The novelty of an invention is given if the invention differs from the relevant prior art. In principle, all information made accessible to the public in writing (patent specifications, magazine articles or other publications), by verbal description (e. g. on the occasion of presentations at conferences or seminars) or by actual activities (e. g. presentations of prototypes) before the application date respectively the priority date of the patent application, belongs to the prior art.

An invention involves an inventive step if a person skilled in the art cannot derive it in an obvious way from the prior art (cf. Article 1 LPI, resp. Article 56 EPC).

In accordance with Article 1 para. 1 of the Federal Law on Patents for Inventions,  patents for inventions are granted for new inventions that are applicable in industry, i.e. commercially applicable, executable and reproducible. Pursuant to constant jurisdiction of the Swiss Federal Court, an invention is given if, based on a peculiar creative idea through the new inventive combination of natural forces, a technical effect and thus a technical progress is obtained (see e.g. BGE 95 I 579 cons. 3).

The patentability of inventions requires in particular the following:

  1. Novelty of the invention (not made available to the public worldwide)
  2. Inventive step (not obvious in view of the prior art)
  3. The invention is industrially applicable



To draft, to reject - to create. Handwritten excerpt of Arthur Schopenhauer's "Welt als Wille und Vorstellung", around 1819.