The Australian courts have recently clarified what acts will
constitute novelty destroying prior art. In Australia, patents are
normally invalid where the idea was publicly used or known before
the priority date of the application. This normally means a
novelty-destroying act occurs when at least one member of the
public is free to make use of the information obtained from the
In Damorgold Pty Ltd v JAI Products Pty Ltd 
FCAFC 31, the Full Federal Court considered a patent for an
internal spring mechanism for controlling the range of a roller
blind. It was accepted that a number of blinds having the mechanism
had been imported into the jurisdiction by a wholesaler and that
the blinds had been demonstrated to many trade customers. However,
whilst customers were free to buy or examine the blind, there was
no evidence that anyone had examined the internal workings of the
blind to discover how the spring mechanism worked.
The majority of the court found that not only must it be shown
that the invention was placed in the public domain, but that also
there must have been an actual disclosure of all the essential
integers of the invention to a member of the public. The assembled
version of the blind did not disclose the essential features of the
invention and did not constitute an "enabling disclosure"
as the spring mechanism was hidden from normal view. What was
relevant was what was actually disclosed and not what theoretically
could be disclosed.
As such it was found that, as the essential features of the
invention had not been prior disclosed to the public, the patent
was valid and enforceable.
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The Ugg boots case revolves around who holds the trade mark rights to the word 'Ugg' in relation to sheepskin boots.
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