Lockdown results in record number of inventions

An inventor from Hong Kong presents his invention, a toothbrush designed to target all dental surfaces, at the International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products, in Geneva last year Keystone

Numerous inventors, start-ups and businesses have taken advantage of the semi-confinement in Switzerland to carry out assisted searches of patent literature.

This content was published on December 17, 2020 - 17:58

“Even in this challenging year, the spirit of innovation in Switzerland has remained intact,” the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) said in a statementExternal link on Thursday.

The IPI said it had already carried out 1,000 assisted patent searches by November. This service supports inventors in finding out where they stand with their idea or invention and whether it’s worth applying to patent it. Customers also learn about the different application procedures and what they should bear in mind when patenting an invention.

There have never been so many patent searches carried out within 12 months since the service was launched 15 years ago. Last year, 824 inventions were put under the microscope.

“This is a positive sign for Switzerland,” said Theodor Nyfeler, deputy head of the patent division at the IPI. “It shows that innovators didn’t bury their heads in the sand during the crisis.”

Free of charge

During the lockdown the IPI supported inventors, start-ups and SMEs (small and medium-sized businesses) with assisted patent searches free of charge, which contributed to the high demand. Normally it costs CHF300 ($340) per search.

Within eight weeks, the IPI received 830 requests for a search. During this time, patent experts carried out almost 70 assisted patent searches per week with customers, which is three times more than in quieter periods.

“The number of innovators and inventors who have become aware of this service has increased significantly,” Nyfeler said.

The patent searches have mainly been conducted online since the lockdown in March. Nevertheless, a search with an IPI patent expert offers advantages over one carried out online, he said. “Direct dialogue is easier and more spontaneous, for example, and there are no technical hurdles to overcome.”

The IPI said it wanted to continue to support inventors, start-ups and SMEs, which is why it was extending its offer of assisted patent searches and analyses for CHF100 instead of CHF300 until June 30, 2021.

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