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Exceptions to novelty: grace period

3.97 Sections 14(4)-(6) provide for certain matter to be disregarded for the purposes of determining novelty – if the disclosure was made under certain circumstances, and within a 12-month “grace period”:

(4) For the purposes of this section, the disclosure of matter constituting an invention shall be disregarded in the case of a patent or an application for a patent if occurring later than the beginning of the period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of filing the application for the patent and either

(a) the disclosure was due to, or made in consequence of, the matter having been obtained unlawfully or in breach of confidence by any person —

(i) from the inventor or from any other person to whom the matter was made available in confidence by the inventor or who obtained it from the inventor because he or the inventor believed that he was entitled to obtain it; or

(ii) from any other person to whom the matter was made available in confidence by any person mentioned in sub-paragraph (i) or in this sub-paragraph or who obtained it from any person so mentioned because he or the person from whom he obtained it believed that he was entitled to obtain it;

(b) the disclosure was made in breach of confidence by any person who obtained the matter in confidence from the inventor or from any other person to whom it was made available, or who obtained it, from the inventor;

(c) the disclosure was due to, or made in consequence of, the inventor displaying the invention at an international exhibition and the applicant states, on filing the application, that the invention has been so displayed and also, within the prescribed period, files written evidence in support of the statement complying with any prescribed condition; or

(d) the disclosure was due to, or made in consequence of, the inventor describing the invention in a paper read by him or another person with his consent or on his behalf before any learned society or published with his consent in the transactions of any learned society.

(5) In subsection (4)(d), ―learned society includes any club or association constituted in Singapore or elsewhere whose main object is the promotion of any branch of learning or science.

(6) In this section, references to the inventor include references to any proprietor of the Invention for the time being.

3.98 These circumstances include disclosures made as a result of a breach of confidence or where the inventor revealed the invention at an International Exhibition or before a learned society. If an applicant wishes to invoke these provisions, the onus is on them to make out a sufficient prima facie case (on the basis of an affidavit or other evidence if necessary) that one of the conditions specified is satisfied.

3.99 Notably the provisions only apply to disclosures within 12 months of the filing date of the application. This means the filing date of the application in Singapore and not the filing date of the priority document (for example the basic document in a foreign country).