Swiss patent: search report
It is possible to request an international type search on the basis of a Swiss patent application. The search is performed by the European Patent Office (EPO).
This search is optional but will be necessary in case the protection is extended in Europe or via the PCT. It is thus often recommended to request it early so as to obtain an opinion from the EPO before incurring costs for such an extension of the geographical coverage. It also enables the text filed in Europe or as an international patent application under the PCT to be adapted in order to take into account potential objections.
The European Patent Office generally strives to prepare this report within a nine months’ deadline after the filing date if the application does not claim any priority. The search report contains a list of documents uncovered by the search examiner and deemed relevant for assessing the novelty and inventiveness of the invention. The documents are attached to the report. A letter next to each document indicates its relevance. The main codes are “X”, used to designate a document which on its own is considered to call into question the novelty or the inventiveness of a claim of the application, and “Y”, which designates the combinations of documents which, together, allow the inventiveness of a claim to be challenged. The letter “A” designates the documents cited as technological background.
The aim of the search report is merely to establish the patentability of the claimed invention but not to assess whether it can be used freely without infringing existing patent rights. An older patent, containing claims sufficiently broad to be infringed by the invention but not describing the new characteristic claimed, will not necessarily be cited despite the applicant obviously having an interest in become aware of this patent.
The search report furthermore does not indicate whether the cited patents are still in force.