Ex parte Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp.
Appeal 2009004255, Reexam Control 90/008,001, Tech. Center 3900
Decided June 4, 2010
The claim for which claim construction was at issue was directed to a conveyor belt. The belt included raised ribs on both faces, where the ribs on the first face "have a curved shape" and ribs on the second face "are straight."
The Examiner relied on Fig. 3 of the Gilbert reference for teaching both sets of ribs:
The Applicant argued that the Examiner's construction was improper:
... In making this rejection, the Patent Office appears to be applying a meaning to the claim term "wherein the ribs raised above the first face have a curved shape ... and the ribs raised above the second face are straight, [and] are parallel to each other" different than that dictated by the specification. Such an interpretation is incorrect.
According to the Applicant, the proper construction was understood according to Fig.2 of the application, which shows the sinusoidal ribs in whole lines and the straight ribs in dotted lines:
The Board agreed with the Applicant. The Board explained that the Applicant construed both “curved shape” and “straight” in the same (top view) perspective, while the Examiner construed “curved shape” in one perspective (cross-section) and “straight” a different perspective (cross-section). "Given the context of the whole claim, this [the Applicant's] construction is the proper one."
My two cents: Nothing revolutionary here, but a good angle to think about when claiming spatial relationships between claim elements.