Types of IP

This page will provide you with information about:

-Inventions and Patents

Design rights, including topographies of semiconductor products

Trademarks, including geographical indications


What is an invention?

From a legal point of view, a technology that provides a new solution to a technical problem is an invention.
An invention can be a product (for example a chemical compound), the use of a product, an application of a product, a treatment, a kit, or a process.

An invention can be protected by a patent only if it satisfies all three of the following criteria:

  • it must be novel: If it has been published or described (written or oral) before or used publicly (internet forum, exhibition etc.) or disclosed to third parties without confidentiality agreement, this criterion is not fulfilled.
  • it must be innovative: It shall not be obvious for a person skilled in the art and shall not be deduced from the technical field of the invention.
  • it must have an industrial application.

Fill in an Invention Disclosure Form (IDF) in order to disclose your invention to a PACTT Licensing Manager!

PACTT will protect your technology by filing a Patent Application if, after analysis, it is considered as an invention.

What is a patent?

A patent is a limited property title that a government grants to creators of inventions for their agreement to share the details of their inventions with the public. A patent is not a right to practice or use the invention. Rather, a patent provides the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the patented invention for the term of the patent, which is usually 20 years from the filing date of an application, subject to the payment of maintenance fees.

A patent being an exclusionary right does not, however, necessarily give the owner of the patent the right to exploit the patent. For example, many inventions are an improvement of prior inventions, which may still be covered by someone else’s patent.

Like any other property right, it may be sold, licensed, mortgaged, assigned or transferred, given away, or simply abandoned.

Some other types of intellectual property rights are referred to as patents in some jurisdictions: industrial design rights are called design patents in some jurisdictions (they protect the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian), plant breeders’ rights are sometimes called plant patents, and utility models or ”Gebrauchsmuster”.

(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent)

How to file a patent application?

The invention must remain absolutely secret until the filing of the application. Any prior disclosure of the invention will violate the novelty criterion and will lead to refusal of the patent application.

The first-to-file system is used in all countries. In this system, the right to the grant of a patent for a given invention lies with the first person to file a patent application for protection of that invention, regardless of the date of actual invention.

On March 16 the United States have switched to a first-inventor-to-file (FITF) system after the enactment of the America Invents Act.

But there is an important difference between the strict nature of FITF under the European Patent Office (EPO) and the FITF system of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO FITF system allows inventors having disclosed the invention some “grace” time before they need to file a patent, whereas EPO does not recognise any grace period, so early disclosure under the FITF provisions is an absolute bar to a later EPO patent.

In the United States, whether under first-to-invent or first-to-file, an inventor can publicly disclose the invention, such as in a blog post, and still file a patent application within one year of that public disclosure. Thus, the new system can really be considered a “first-to-disclose” system.

By informing PACTT as early as possible about the invention with an Invention Disclosure Form (IDF), you can help PACTT secure intellectual property rights without compromising rapid scientific publication.

Services provided by the technology transfer office are free of charge for all employees of the University Hospital of Lausanne and the University of Lausanne.

Remember: FIRST FILE A PATENT APPLICATION, THEN PUBLISH! The following figure summarizes the process and the role of the inventor, the patent office and the technology transfer office.

From IDF to national phase applications

From IDF to national patent applications

What is a design right?

Design rights protect the appearance of an object. In order to be protected, a design must be new and distinctive from existing designs. The owner of a design right can prohibit others from commercialising objects with the same or similar design for up to 25 years.

In Switzerland, another Act protects topographies (or design) of semi-conductors products. Their protection only extends to the external form of a topography and not the electronic function of the semi-conductor product.

For more information about design rights and topographies of semi-conductors products, visit the dedicated pages of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. If you have a specific question, don’t hesitate to contact PACTT!

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a sign,  which is given protection in order to distinguish the products and/or services of one business from another. Such a sign may be composed of words, a combination of letter,  numericals, graphic images, tri-dimensional forms, slogans, any combination of these elements or of a series of tones. Trademark protection is granted for 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely by paying dedicated fees for successive 10-years periods. Protection of products and/or services of the trademark owner is granted for designated classes of products and/ or services. In case of litigation, a trademark offers protection and reduces the risk of losing.

In Switzerland, the Trademark Act also protects geographical indications, which are references to the geographical origin of goods or services.

For more information about design rights and topographies of semi-conductors products, visit the dedicated pages of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. If you have a specific question, don’t hesitate to contact PACTT!

What is a copyright?

Copyrights protect, upon their creation (=without the need to register them), intellectual creations of literature and art which have a unique character. Computer programs are also protected under copyright. Copyright generally last for 70 years (50 years for computer programs) after the death of the author.

In order to disclose the creation of a new software, please fill in the Software Disclosure Form or go to the Disclose an invention or a software page.

For more information on software licensing, please visit FAQ page.

For more information about copyright, visit the dedicated page of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. If you have a specific question, don’t hesitate to contact a PACTT Legal Counsel!

Useful links