1.9.3 Abstracts of documents

In T 160/92 (OJ 1995, 35) the board held that the teaching of a previously published abstract of a Japanese patent document, considered per se without its corresponding original document, formed prima facie part of the prior art and might be legitimately cited as such if nothing on the file pointed to its invalidity (cf. T 462/96).

In T 1080/99 (OJ 2002, 568) the board held that in view of its legal nature and intended purpose, a Japanese patent abstract in English was a publication intended to reflect the technical content of the corresponding Japanese patent application for the purpose of quick prima facie information of the public, as was the purpose of any kind of abstract or summary of technical subject-matter. Hence the contents of such abstracts were to be interpreted, and possibly re-evaluated, in the light of the original document if the latter was available.

In T 243/96, it was established that the abstract of a document, on the basis of which the application in suit was refused, is an independent part of the prior art in its own right. However, in view of the inadequacy of this disclosure, and the divergent views on how the abstract should be interpreted, the board decided to introduce the full document into the appeal proceedings in the form of its English translation, it being understood that the full document took precedence over the abstract.

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