The definition of the state of the art in the EPC reflects the principle of absolute novelty: the state of the art comprises everything made available to the public anywhere in the world by means of a written or oral description, by use, or in any other way, before the date of filing or priority. However, novelty is prejudiced only by something which is clearly disclosed to a skilled person in a single source of prior art, e.g. in a patent application published before the date of priority.
3.3.002An earlier disclosure of the invention is non-prejudicial only if it occurred less than six months before the filing of the European patent application and was due to an evident abuse in relation to the applicant or to display at an exhibition falling within the terms of the Paris Convention on international exhibitions.5 Except in these two cases, the second of which is rare in practice, any disclosure of the invention before the date of filing or, if applicable, the earliest priority claimed (see point 4.1.021) can be cited against the applicant as forming part of the state of the art, even if the applicant themself was responsible for the disclosure.
5Every year the EPO in its Official Journal publishes a list of exhibitions falling within the terms of this Convention that have been registered by the International Exhibition Bureau.