This revised version of the Guidelines for Examination will apply as from 1 November 2015. Until then, the September 2014 edition of the Guidelines remains valid.

3.1 Common general knowledge of the skilled person

Common general knowledge can come from various sources and does not necessarily depend on the publication of a specific document on a specific date. An assertion that something is common general knowledge need only be backed by documentary evidence (for example, a textbook) if this is contested (see G‑IV, 2).

A single publication (e.g. a patent document, but also the content of a technical journal) cannot normally be considered as common general knowledge (see T 475/88). In special cases, articles in technical journals can be representative of common general knowledge (see T 595/90). This applies in particular to articles providing a broad review or survey of a topic (see T 309/88). For the skilled person addressing the problem of bringing together certain starting materials, the conclusions of research on these materials carried out by only a very few manufacturers form part of the relevant general technical knowledge, even if the studies in question have only been published in technical journals (see T 676/94). Another exception is that it can also be the information contained in patent specifications or scientific publications, if the invention lies in a field of research which is so new that the relevant technical knowledge is not yet available from textbooks (see T 51/87).

Basic textbooks and monographs can be considered as representing common general knowledge (see T 171/84); if they contain references which direct the reader to further articles dealing with specific problems, these articles too may be counted as part of such knowledge (see T 206/83). Here it should be remembered that information does not become common general knowledge because it has been published in a particular textbook, reference work, etc.; on the contrary, it appears in books of this kind because it is already common general knowledge (see T 766/91). This means that the information in such a publication must have already become part of common general knowledge some time before the date of publication.

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