On 1 April 2013 the most recent update to the UKIPO’s Manual of Patent Practice (MOPP) took effect. Many of the changes are minor points of clarification, although it is worth drawing attention to the changes to Sections 2.24.1 and 2.24.2, which relate to public disclosures, and reflect decisions of the EPO Board of Appeal.
Section 2.24.1 now outlines a two-step test used by the Board of Appeal for determining whether documents stored on the World Wide Web, but which are only accessible via a specific URL, are considered to be disclosures made available to the public. This test is:
i. could the document be found with the help of a public search engine by using one or more keywords all related to the essence of the content of that document; and
ii. has the document remained accessible at the URL for a period of time long enough for a member of the public to have direct and unambiguous access to the document?
Section 2.24.2 now discusses the Board of Appeal decision in T 0002/09, which found that the act of transmitting an e-mail via the internet does not in itself make the e-mail available to the public.
A table outlining each of the sections of the MOPP that have been updated can be found at http://www.ipo.gov.uk/practice-tablechange.pdf.