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Cover Intellectual Property Law

18. Novelty  

L. Bently, B. Sherman, D. Gangjee, and P. Johnson

This chapter considers novelty as a prerequisite for an invention to be patentable under both the Patents Act 1977 and the European Patents Convention. More specifically, it tackles three questions to help decide whether an invention is novel: what the invention is; what information is disclosed by the prior art; and whether the invention is novel (part of the state of the art). It also looks at the so-called ‘right to work’ argument, whereby novelty helps to ensure that patents are not used to prevent people from doing what they had already done before the patent was granted, and its modification as a result of changes in the way in which novelty is determined. The chapter concludes by discussing three specific types of inventions and the problems that have arisen when evaluating their novelty: inventions relating to medical uses and non-medical uses, and so-called selection inventions.