The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (French: Institut fédéral de la propriété intellectuelle, IPI; German: Eidgenössisches Institut für Geistiges Eigentum, IGE; Italian: Istituto federale della proprietà intellettuale), based in Bern, is an agency of the federal administration of Switzerland responsible for patents, trademarks, geographical indications, industrial designs and copyright.
It is part of the Federal Department of Justice and Police. Since 1996, it operates as an autonomous agency with control of its own budget. The IPI had around 265 employees in 2014.
The Federal Intellectual Property Agency was founded on 15 November 1888. Albert Einstein worked there as a patent clerk for several years, including 1905, his Annus Mirabilis (miracle year). That year, while continuing to work on patents, Einstein published four groundbreaking papers that are fundamental to modern physics.
The agency was renamed the Federal Office of Intellectual Property in 1978 as part of the new administrative organisation law. On 1 January 1996, it received the status of an independent public law institution and continued under the name of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI).
Mandate and services
The IPI's tasks are laid down in its own Federal Act on the Statute and Tasks of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property:
- The granting of intellectual property (IP) rights: The IPI is the central point of contact for patent, trade mark and design applications in Switzerland and, depending on the procedure, also for international applications. It examines national applications, grants IP rights and administers the relevant registers. Its official organ for publishing IP rights is the online database Swissreg. Information from the IP registers on IP rights and protected topographies can be found in this database free of charge.
- Sovereign duty to provide information: The IPI informs industry stakeholders, educational institutions and the public about the intellectual property protection systems and how they can be utilised to the best advantage.
- Political services: The IPI prepares legislation on patents for inventions, designs, copyright and related rights, topographies of semiconductor products, trade marks and indications of source, public coats of arms and other public signs, as well as other enactments in the field of intellectual property. It advises the federal authorities and represents Switzerland in all intellectual property issues in international organisations and in negotiations with third states.
- Commercial information services: The IPI carries out trade mark and patent searches on the basis of private law under the label of ip-search; in particular, it carries out similarity searches for trade marks, as well as prior art searches, validity searches (opposition searches), patent infringement searches (freedom to operate) and patent landscape analyses for patents.
- 1888 – 1921 Friedrich Haller
- 1921 – 1935 Walther Kraft
- 1935 – 1962 Hans Morf
- 1962 – 1969 Joseph Voyame (1923–2010)
- 1969 – 1975 Walter Stamm
- 1976 – 1985 Paul Brändli
- 1985 – 1989 Jean-Louis Comte
- 1989 – 2015 Roland Grossenbacher (born 1950)
- 2015 - current Catherine Chammartin