With the increasingly prevalent incidence of dissemination of information via the internet, the determination of the exact date on which such publication takes place, and the level of proof required, is of great interest to patent practitioners.
The European Patent Office recently published guidelines, available here, that indicate that the standard of proof required to establish the date of publication of information retrieved from an internet archive is proof "beyond reasonable doubt".
However, reports have now reached us of a case heard by the UK Intellectual Property Office in which that view was not supported. Instead, the UKIPO Hearing Officer indicated that the proper standard is the usual civil standard of "the balance of probabilities".
The UK Hearing Officer's Decision in this case can be found here.
Doubtless there will be more decisions on this and related issues in the coming years.
23 November 2009