9.
Errors in prior-art documents 

Errors may exist in prior-art documents. If, using common general knowledge (see G‑VII, 3.1), the skilled person can

(i)
see at once that the disclosure of a relevant prior art document contains errors, and
(ii)
identify what the only possible correction should be,

then the errors in the disclosure do not affect its relevance as prior art. The document can thus be considered to contain the correction when assessing its relevance to patentability (see T 591/90).

When a potential error is detected, three situations may arise depending on whether the skilled person, using general knowledge,

(i)
can immediately see that the document contains an error and immediately identify what the only possible correction should be;
(ii)
can immediately see that the document contains an error, but is able to identify more than one possible correction; or
(iii)
cannot immediately recognise that an error has occurred.

When assessing the relevance of a document to patentability,

in case (i), the disclosure is considered to contain the correction;

in case (ii), the disclosure of the passage containing the error is not taken into account;

in case (iii), the literal disclosure is taken into account as is.

For possible errors concerning compound records in online databases, see B‑VI, 6.5. For non-enabling disclosures, see G-IV, 2.

 

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