Details: I found four different cases where an Examiner rejected a claim as indefinite for reciting a standard. In each case, the Examiner's rationale was simply that the claim was indefinite because the standard is subject to change over time. In all four cases, the Board reversed the rejection, reasoning that although a standard may change over time, a particular version of that standard was in existence on the application's filing date, so the claim was not indefinite. (Ex parte McClary, claim recited "ARINC 615 protocol"; Ex parte Ly, claim recited copper "designated by reference used in French standard NF A 51050"; Ex parte Smith, claim referred to a color change "in CIELAB value b*", where CIELAB refers to a color model incorporated into an industry standard; Ex parte Fiala, claim referred to polyethylene selected per a particular ASTM materials standard).
In Ex parte Matsumara (1996 WL 1771396, Appeal No. 94-2397), the Board overturned the indefiniteness rejection for the same reason, and further noted that: "[t]he fact that the terms cover every video standard of NTSC for video data and video signals means the terms are broad. ... The Examiner had confused breadth with indefiniteness."
The Board discussed (in dicta) the effect that referring to a standard has on claim construction in Ex parte Ly:
Even if the common definition of that term should change over time, the ordinary meaning of the term as it would have been understood by one having ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention controls. In the same way, should the French standard of claims 5 and 17 change over time, the scope of the claims remains tied to the standard in effect at the time the application was filed. By referencing the type of copper in French Standard NF A 51-050 in the claims, the claims incorporate that standard as it existed on the effective filing date.
My two cents: Though I can understand the BPAI's reasoning, I was bothered by the BPAI's statement that claim scope is tied to the standard in effect at the time of filing. Does that mean a claim that recites "wherein the LAN interface is an 802.14 interface" won't cover future versions of WiFi? If so, isn't the claim almost worthless in practice, since it's by the time the patent issues, the WiFi standard will have evolved?
How do you interpret a claim that recites "the IP protocol"? IPv6 was originally defined back in 1998, yet as of 2008, 98% of the world's networking equipment still used IPv4. So, in an application filed in 2000, does a claim reciting "the IP protocol" refer to IPv4, IPv6, or both? Or is indefinite because two versions of the standard coexisted?