Words are Given their Plain Meaning

Date Published

The words of a specification should generally be given their ordinary English meaning (Interlego AG v Toltoys Pty Ltd (1973) 130 CLR 461 at 478). The exception to this is where a word or expression has a special meaning in the relevant art, that specialised meaning should be adopted (Electric & Musical Industries Ltd v Lissen Ltd (1939) 56 RPC 23 at 41). This follows from the fact that the specification is read by a person skilled in the relevant art, as exemplified in the case of Patent Exploitation Ltd v Siemens Bros. 21 RPC 549:

"a specification like any other document should be construed by the Court according to the fair meaning of the language used after being informed by evidence of the nature of the subject-matter, the state of knowledge at the [priority] date of the patent, and the meaning of any scientific or technical terms that are in it."