Have you considered patenting your research? We are here to support you in evaluating the patentability of your NCCR Catalysis work, and ensuring that critical inventions are patented.
Our KTT Officer Lauren Gamp is available at and +41 44 633 34 21, if you have questions or would like support in navigating the patenting process.
What is intellectual property?
Intellectual Property, or IP, “refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce”, as defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO.
The main types of IP are patents, copyright, trademarks, and industrial design.
What is a patent?
WIPO describes a patent as “an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application.”
What does a patent do?
A patent protects your invention, providing you with the exclusive right to produce and sell your invention. Therefore, it prevents others from commercializing your invention for 20 to 25 years.
Why should I patent my invention?
Patents protect inventions and enable them to be exploited by industry. They allow businesses to produce the invention, and maintain their freedom to operate, continuing to produce the invention.
What is required to patent an invention?
The invention must meet 3 requirements in Switzerland. It must be new, be inventive, and be industrially applicable.
I want to publish my invention in an academic paper
That’s okay, you can still do so after you submit your patent application. It is important that you first patent the invention, then publish it. If you publish first, then the invention is considered part of the prior art, and cannot be patented.
What is prior art?
Prior art is “any evidence that your invention is already known” as defined by the European Patent Office. If “someone, somewhere, sometime previously has described or shown or made something that contains a use of technology that is very similar to your invention”, it is prior art.
How can I find prior art?
Prior art can be found anywhere that inventions are described. This can be in technical documents such as patents or publications. Starting a prior art search with related databases is advisable. However, prior art is everywhere, so it can be worth widening your search.
What is priority?
The date that you file the first patent application is the priority date. In subsequent applications related to the same invention (for example, in other countries), the priority date remains the same.
What is a patent family?
Patent families are collections of patents which cover the same or similar technical content.
Where is a patent valid?
Granted patents are valid in the region they were filed in.
How do I file a patent?
Filing a patent is the process of applying for a patent. Applications are made to patent offices. These include the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, the European Patent Office, and the World Intellectual Property Organization.
What is a granted patent?
When a patent application has been accepted by the relevant patent office, it has been granted.
Patenting is generally carried out together with your institution’s tech transfer office. In order to assess if your invention is suitable for patenting, the first step is typically to fill out an invention disclosure form.
Invention disclosure forms are used by technology transfer offices to evaluate if an invention is patentable, and then prepare a patent application. They generally ask you to provide information on the following topics:
The forms are available from each institution at the following locations:
There are a number of awards for outstanding patents and innovations. A selection of these are listed below.
ETH Spark Award: Yearly award for the most promising invention at ETH that yielded a patent application.
Empa Innovation Award: Given out every other year, this award is for outstanding innovation and technology transfer projects at Empa. Spin-offs and industrial partners working with Empa are also eligible.
European Inventor Award: Each year, the European Patent Office recognizes outstanding inventors. Since 2022, they also offer a Young Inventors Prize for inventors under 30 years old.
Knowledge and Technology Transfer Officer
+41 44 633 34 21