The Doctrine of Partial and Multiple Priorities, especially from the standpoint of Toxic Priority

”It’s never as simple as it seems at the beginning, or as hopeless as it seems in the middle….or as finished as it seems at the end.”

0. Introduction & Overview

0.1     Priority is a fundamental issue for IP practitioners. Its importance is marked by case law of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) in mid-1994 (G0003/93) and mid-2001 (G0002/98) and by a greater number of lower board decisions spanning longer. But this doesn’t stand priority out much from the crowd: it might be seen as normal background noise, with one or two louder highlights, to be expected following the reforms of the 1970’s.

0.2     Self-publication has always been the most dangerous form of anticipation risk – who else is more likely to be in a position to disclose the precise subject-matter on which an innovator is working than the innovator himself. The good news is it can be controlled – policy and process can anticipate what can go wrong and ensure it doesn’t happen unacceptably often. Toxic Priority 1 is self-publication without the good news. Its existence was unrealised and so beyond control. Once realised, implementation of its management required a lot of thought and much delay. There was also historic toxicity requiring consideration. Toxic Priority therefore received a lot of concerned “public” attention, which explains why, in a paper about the wider topic of partial/multiple priorities, centre stage is occupied by that sub-topic and solutions for it.

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