8.1.2 Competent skilled person – group of people as "skilled person"

Sometimes the "skilled person" may be a group of people, such as a research or production team. For the purposes of Art. 56 EPC 1973, the person skilled in the art was normally not assumed to be aware of patent or technical literature in a remote technical field. In appropriate circumstances, however, the knowledge of a team consisting of persons having different areas of expertise could be taken into account (T 141/87, T 99/89, T 26/98). This would be the case in particular if an expert in one particular field was appropriate for solving one part of the problem, while for another part one would need to look to another expert in a different area (T 986/96).

In T 15/15 the board held that where a new technology was about to spread into a traditional field, it was common practice to group people from both technical fields into a development team. The board was thus of the opinion that the skilled person in the case in hand consisted of a team of an orthodontist and an expert in CAD/CAM technology. This conclusion was drawn from the situation in the field before the filing/priority date, without considering any specific invention.

In T 164/92 (OJ 1995, 305, Corr. 387) it was observed that sometimes the average skilled person in electronics, particularly if he did not have an adequate knowledge of programming languages himself, might be expected to consult a computer programmer if a publication contained sufficient indications that further details of the facts described therein were to be found in a program listing attached as an annex thereto.

In T 147/02, the board observed that the skilled person in the field of drainage systems for tunnels, flood barriers, dams and hydro-electric installations, was typically an engineer or architect in the civil engineering sector who drew up plans and supervised the building work, frequently working in a team with other specialists (T 460/87, T 99/89).

Further comments on the concept of the "team of experts" are to be found in the following decisions: T 57/86, T 222/86 (in advanced laser technology, the "skilled person" as a production team of three experts in physics, electronics and chemistry respectively), T 141/87, T 295/88, T 424/90 (consideration that in real life the semiconductor expert would consult a plasma specialist), T 825/93, T 2/94, T 402/95 and T 986/96 (team consisting of a first expert in the field of mail processing and a second expert acquainted with information in the field of weighing) and T 2192/10 (team comprising a machine designer and an actuator technician).

Quick Navigation