Art. L611-11 IPC: An invention shall be considered to be new if it does not form part of the state of the art. The state of the art shall be held to comprise everything made available to the public (any person not held by contract to confidentiality) by means of a written or oral description, by use or in any other way, before the date of filing of the patent application.
Art. L611-14 IPC: An invention shall be considered to involve an inventive step if, having regard to the state of the art, it is not obvious to a person skilled in the art.
The Economist (1990, September the 15th) compares the patent system to a "time-consuming lottery" because only a tiny fraction of patents brings any benefit to those who actually hold the patents.
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