Anticipation by specific disclosure

3.47 A claim lacks novelty if there is a prior disclosure of something falling within its scope.

3.48 A claim which defines the invention by reference to alternatives will lack novelty if one of these alternatives is already known. For example a disclosure of a copper coil spring will anticipate a later claim to a metal coil spring. In such cases it may be possible to overcome an objection of lack of novelty by means of a disclaimer.

3.49 In contrast, a generic prior art disclosure will generally not anticipate a subsequent, more specific claim. Thus a prior art disclosure of a metal coil spring will not anticipate a later claim to a coil spring made of copper.

3.50 Nevertheless, a disclosure of a relatively small number of possible alternatives may be taken to be a disclosure of each and every member of the class. For example, in Norton Healthcare Ltd v Beecham Group Plc (BL C/62/95) Jacob J held that a disclosure of a combination of sodium or potassium clavulanate with amoxycillin or ampicillin trihydrate was a disclosure of each of the four possible combinations.