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Date Published

In general:

"... it is clear that individual patent specifications and their contents do not normally form part of the relevant common general knowledge .."

General Tire & Rubber Company v Firestone Tyre and Rubber Company Ltd [1972] RPC 457 at page 482

Thus, in usual circumstances, examiners should not rely on a single patent specification as establishing the state of the common general knowledge.

However, as was stated in Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co v Beiersdorf (Australia) Ltd (1980) 144 CLR 253 at page 294:

"There may be some fields of endeavour in which those who work therein study and make themselves familiar with all patent specifications as they become available for inspection in one or in many countries so that what was contained therein becomes common general knowledge in that particular trade or field of manufacture in the country in question. Examples are provided by Vidal Dyes Syndicate Ltd v Levinstein Ltd.** and British Celanese Ltd v Courtaulds Ltd.*"

** (1912) 29 RPC 245 at pages 279-280.

* (1933) 50 RPC 259 at page 280.

Where multiple specifications refer to a piece of knowledge, this may be indicative of that knowledge being common general knowledge, especially when the applications are by different applicants. However, examiners are not to conduct lengthy searches for the sole purpose of identifying common general knowledge, but instead should consider the possibility of combining documents where the person skilled in the art would be reasonably expected to have done so.

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