The platform MAP incorporates societies and scientifique bodies dedicated to the areas of mathematics, astronomy and physics. It supports the organisations’ activities and coordinates and promotes research and education in the field of mathematics, astronomy and physics.

Image: ESO

A physicist is shaping the world of patents

To work as a patent attorney, you need a technical degree. The profession mainly requires scientific expertise, as the example of Martina Nieswand shows: she studied theoretical physics before joining a large patent law firm in Eastern Switzerland.

Martina Nieswand
Image: Benedikt Vogel

The video portrait is at the bottom.

If companies want to commercially exploit an innovative process or product, they apply for a patent: The patent protects their invention, meaning that it may not be used by other companies (or only in return for financial compensation). Patents are indispensable for an innovation-driven economy: last year, Swiss companies registered around 1,500 patents with the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) in Bern - and a further 9,000 with the European Patent Office in Munich.

Protecting property throughout Switzerland

When companies apply for patents, they generally seek the support of patent attorneys. They have the technical and legal expertise to professionally implement patent applications and related intellectual property services such as trademark applications, design applications and license agreements. Martina Nieswand works as a patent attorney at 'Hepp Wenger Ryffel AG' in Wil (Canton of St. Gallen). The company has 30 employees, including ten patent attorneys who are registered with the Swiss and European Patent Offices.

A dream job

Martina Nieswand grew up as the daughter of an engineer in Solingen (North Rhine-Westphalia). She studied physics in Düsseldorf and Constance and specialized in theoretical solid-state physics. For her doctoral thesis, she investigated order-disorder transitions on lattices. After her doctorate, Martina Nieswand completed a distance learning course in medical physics and technology at the University of Kaiserslautern before joining a medical technology company. "I came across the patents at this company," says Martina Nieswand. "I couldn't let go of the subject, so I became a patent attorney in a law firm. It's my dream job."

Martina Nieswand lives in Constance. Together with her husband, also a qualified physicist, she has three grown-up children and a granddaughter. In her free time, she sings in a choir, plays in a trombone choir, goes hiking and does water sports.

Author: Bendikt Vogel

Some personal questions for Martina Nieswand

Where would you like to live?

By the water

What mistakes are you most likely to apologise for?

The ones I make myself

Your favourite novel heroines?

Pippi Longstocking

Your favourite composer?

Johann Sebastian Bach

Your favourite pastime?

Reading and eating chocolate

Who or what would you like to be?

A good musician

What do you value most in your friends?


What would be the greatest misfortune for you?


Your favourite colour?


Your favourite flower?


Your favourite author?

Juli Zeh

What do you detest most?


What natural gift would you like to have?

Good physical coordination

Your motto:

"Et kütt, wie et kütt" (literal translation: "it comes as it comes")

Martina Nieswand - ausgebildete Physikerin - Patentanwältin


  • Career
  • Patents
  • Promotion of young talents