|← MPEP 2114||↑ MPEP 2100||MPEP 2116 →|
MATERIAL OR ARTICLE WORKED UPON DOES NOT LIMIT APPARATUS CLAIMS
“Expressions relating the apparatus to contents thereof during an intended operation are of no significance in determining patentability of the apparatus claim.” Ex parte Thibault, 164 USPQ 666, 667 (Bd. App. 1969). Furthermore, “[i]nclusion of material or article worked upon by a structure being claimed does not impart patentability to the claims.” In re Young, 75 F.2d 996, 25 USPQ 69 (CCPA 1935) (as restated in In re Otto, 312 F.2d 937, 136 USPQ 458, 459 (CCPA 1963)).
In In re Young, a claim to a machine for making concrete beams included a limitation to the concrete reinforced members made by the machine as well as the structural elements of the machine itself. The court held that the inclusion of the article formed within the body of the claim did not, without more, make the claim patentable.
In In re Casey, 370 F.2d 576, 152 USPQ 235 (CCPA 1967), an apparatus claim recited “[a] taping machine comprising a supporting structure, a brush attached to said supporting structure, said brush being formed with projecting bristles which terminate in free ends to collectively define a surface to which adhesive tape will detachably adhere, and means for providing relative motion between said brush and said supporting structure while said adhesive tape is adhered to said surface.” An obviousness rejection was made over a reference to Kienzle which taught a machine for perforating sheets. The court upheld the rejection stating that “the references in claim 1 to adhesive tape handling do not expressly or impliedly require any particular structure in addition to that of Kienzle.” The perforating device had the structure of the taping device as claimed, the difference was in the use of the device, and “the manner or method in which such machine is to be utilized is not germane to the issue of patentability of the machine itself.”
Note that this line of cases is limited to claims directed to machinery which works upon an article or material in its intended use. It does not apply to product claims or kit claims (i.e., claims directed to a plurality of articles grouped together as a kit).