Digital economy performs well

Bern, 26.05.2021 - At its meeting on 26 May 2021, the Federal Council took note of the report by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) entitled ’Access to non-personal data in the private sector’. The digital economy significantly contributes to the economic performance of Switzerland. To facilitate access to non-personal data held by the private sector, the report calls for complementary support measures and the establishment of ’common data spaces’.

In an increasingly digital economy, data is of central importance. In contrast to personal data, which has been the focus of attention up to now, non-personal data still has largely untapped potential. Non-personal data includes, for example, data relating to the use of pesticides on an agricultural parcel, high-frequency trading data in the financial sector, an inventory of the tourist attractions in a town and data produced by machine tools. Such data plays a crucial role in the development of innovative products and services.

In August 2018, the Future of Data Processing and Data Security expert group, established by the Federal Department of Finance, recommended examining ways of facilitating access to non-personal data in the private sector. The IPI conducted this review in collaboration with external specialists and other competent offices.

The report presented to the Federal Council shows that Switzerland’s overall performance in this domain is relatively good compared to other European countries. The private sector shares the same opinion that the non-personal data markets are on the verge of developing in this country. The existing legal framework enables this development. If there are no major barriers in accessing non-personal data, the adoption of certain measures can facilitate the use of this data by companies.

Open and shared data models

The concepts of open data and shared data are promising approaches for the sharing of non-personal data in the private sector. Based on voluntary participation, they reflect a liberal understanding of the economy and guarantee great autonomy for private actors. Common data spaces, in particular, are the subject of an analysis by the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) and the Directorate of International Law (DIL). They have been tasked with identifying the areas in which government intervention would be necessary. Their findings are expected to be published at the end of the year. On the basis of the report, the competent authorities in each sector will be able to evaluate the legal framework and tools for improving access to non-personal data in their domain.

Complementary support measures

The IPI worked with specialists in drafting an initial series of model agreements designed to facilitate access to non-personal data. An agreement on data transfer, a subscription agreement for access to data and a data exchange agreement are available for free on the IPI website. The IPI, in collaboration with the private sector and other competent offices, will continue to propose complementary support measures. These will take the form of model agreements, summaries of the legal situation surrounding data, checklists and guides for establishing agreements or best practices.

Address for enquiries

Anaïc Cordoba, Lawyer, Legal Services - Industrial Property Rights
T +41 31 377 72 54

Alexander Pfister, Head of Legal Services - Industrial Property Rights
T +41 31 377 74 88


The Federal Council

Federal Department of Justice and Police

Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property