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PCT International Search and Preliminary Examination Guidelines


Chapter 11 Prior Art

Prior Art Generally

Article 33(2); Rule 33.1

11.01  The prior art for the purposes of assessing the novelty (see Chapter 12) and inventive step (whether or not the invention is obvious; see Chapter 13) of an invention is defined as “everything made available to the public anywhere in the world by means of written disclosure (including drawings and other illustrations)” before the “relevant date.” The scope of this definition should be noted. There are no restrictions whatsoever as to the geographical location where, or the language or manner (including written disclosure posted on the Internet or an on-line database) in which, the relevant information contained in the written disclosure was made available to the public. There are no restrictions as to the age of the prior art document (whether it is 100 years old or was published one day prior to the “relevant date”) so long as the document was made available to the public before the “relevant date.” If the applicant makes an admission, the subject matter mentioned in the admission (for example, a figure in an international application labeled as “prior art”) may constitute prior art. The presumption that the admission constitutes prior art may be rebutted by the applicant.