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Title: The practical accomplishment of novelty in the UK patent system
Author: Sugden, Christopher Michael Gordon
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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Novelty is a widespread notion that has not been given commensurate critical attention. This research is an ethnographically-inclined exploration of practices surrounding the accomplishment of novelty in an institution for which novelty is a central notion: the patent system of the United Kingdom. The research is based on interviews with patent examiners at the UK patent office, interviews with patent attorneys at various legal firms, and documentary analysis of legislation and numerous legal judgments. The thesis brings to bear themes from Science and Technology Studies and ethnomethodology to assess the extent to which they can account for the practices surrounding novelty in the UK patent system. As a fundamental legal requirement for the patentability of inventions, novelty is a central part of the practices of patent composition, assessment and contestation. Rather than being a straightforward technical criterion, however, novelty is shown to be a complex and heterogeneous phenomenon emerging from interwoven legal, bureaucratic and individual practices. The local resolution of whether or not a given invention is new, and the cross-institutional coherence of novelty as a practicable notion, raise questions concerning ontology, accountability, scale and inconcludability, and provide an opportunity for empirically grounded engagement with these longstanding analytical concerns.
Supervisor: Woolgar, Steve Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Socio-legal studies ; Intellectual property ; Social Sciences ; Sociology ; Management ; science & technology studies ; sociology of knowledge ; intellectual property ; patents