What is meant by the requirement of Novelty?

One important requirement for an invention to be patentable is that it is novel. “Novel” means that the invention has not been made public before the filing date. For the European patent office this essentially means that it has not been made available through either a written or an oral disclosure, or in any other way to a third party which was not bound by a confidentiality agreement. 

Novelty is thus assessed based on the “prior art”. The prior art includes all publicly accessible knowledge and publications that were available before the day of the filing. This encompasses both scientific and patent literature and any types of disclosures from a publication in a local paper to a blog on the internet. The language of the prior art is not relevant. For example, if the invention was described in a Korean or Japanese article in a local newspaper published before the filing date of the patent application, this is considered valid prior art. If such prior art is identified by the patent offices, it can compromise the patentability of the invention. The number of copies of a publication also does not affect the prior art value of a document – there may be a single copy available for public inspection, or limitless copies published on the Internet. In both situations, if the invention is described therein, it will be considered novelty-destroying.

In some countries a grace period is available. Contact us for more information on this.

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