Welcome to the new version of the Patents Manual. Please note there are changes to the numbering and sequence of the chapters and pages in the manual. You are encouraged to take the time to explore and familiarise yourself with this new structure. Relative terms

Date Published

Use of Relative Terms

Relative terms are expressions (such as ‘relatively’ and ‘substantially’), defining features relative to one or more other features.

Relative terms may be used in a patent specification in an appropriate context, provided they convey the necessary meaning.

Case examples are:

  • ‘relatively small’ (Leonardis v Sartas (1996) 449 FCA 1; Populin v H B Nominees Pty Ltd (1982) 41 ALR 471 at page 473);

  • ‘a minor amount of water ... small in comparison with the total amount of other liquid constituents’ (Imperial Chemical Industries Limited (Clark’s) Application [1969] RPC 574 at pages 583 and 584);

  • ‘substantially dropwise’ flow (Vax Appliances Limited v Hoover plc (1991) FSR 307 at pages 309 and 318); and

  • ‘substantial effect’ (Monsanto Company v Commissioner of Patents (1974) 48 ALJR 59).

Amended Reasons

Amended Reason Date Amended

Published for testing

Back to top