2.8.4 Databases as common general knowledge

In T 890/02 (OJ 2005, 497) the board pointed out that the skilled person did not necessarily have knowledge of the whole technology. Having regard to the case law, the board established three criteria for correctly assessing the common general knowledge of skilled persons. First, the skills of such a person included not only having basic general knowledge of the particular prior art, but also knowing where to find such information, be it in a collection of relevant studies (see T 676/94), a scientific publication or a patent specification (see T 51/87 and T 772/89). Second, it could not be expected that, in order to identify this common general knowledge, the skilled person would carry out a comprehensive search of the literature covering virtually the whole state of the art. No undue effort in the way of such a search could be required of the skilled person (see T 171/84, OJ 1986, 95; T 206/83, OJ 1987, 5; T 676/94). Third, the information found had to be unambiguous and usable in a direct and straightforward manner without doubts or further investigation (see T 149/07).

In T 890/02 the board concluded that whilst not being stricto sensu encyclopaedias or handbooks, databases (a) which are known to the skilled person as an adequate source for obtaining the required information, (b) from which this information may be retrieved without undue burden and (c) which provide it in a straightforward and unambiguous manner without any need for supplementary searches represent the common general knowledge of the skilled person as defined in the case law, and can be taken into account as such in deciding whether the teaching of a document which prima facie destroys novelty is sufficient to be reproducible.

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