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Common general knowledge - a truth universally acknowledged

11 April 2011

Jane Austin’s famous phrase “a truth universally acknowledged” was adopted by Mr Justice Floyd recently to summarise an understanding of what amounts to common general knowledge and to distinguish that knowledge from something which is obvious. There was then an interesting discussion on the approach of the expert and the difference between common general knowledge and further information which the skilled person will seek before he embarks on the problem to which the patent provides a solution. He concluded that a step by step analysis, performed after the event, may not in fact prove to be unrealistic or driven by hindsight. The mere fact that further steps can be characterised as being performed in order to make an informed decision cannot prevent those steps from contributing to a finding of inventiveness.

Probably the best evidence of common general knowledge is found in standard text books rather than in the studies of highly learned and expensive experts.

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