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Prior art search tools on the Internet and legal status of the results: a European Patent Office perspective

By Eugenio Archontopoulos


Retrieving relevant prior art from the Internet has become an important aspect of the search procedure at the European Patent Office, concerning all fields of technology. This article offers not only an overview of the tools available to the examiners, but also a detailed insight of the potentiality of such on-line searching for applicants and representatives, for efficiently identifying and retrieving pertinent documents by means of the existing search tools. Further, particular legal aspects in relation to Internet citations are presented, in the light of some decisions of the Technical Board of Appeal, with emphasis given to the issues related to the date of availability to the public of an Internet disclosure, its conformance and its possibly non-prejudicial nature.Prior art disclosures Internet search European Patent Office Search engines Google AltaVista Metasearch engines Vivisimo Article 54 EPC Article 55 EPC Legal consequences Availability to the public Conformance Date of availability Non-prejudicial disclosures

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