This appeal is from the decision of the Board of Appeals affirming the examiner's rejection of claims 6, 8 and 14-17 in appellants' patent application
Claim 6, to which we have added reference numerals corresponding to the above drawing, adequately describes the apparatus:
Claim 8 differs from claim 6 primarily in adding the limitation that the mixing head is cylindrical. Claim 14 differs from claim 6 primarily in further requiring "means [three metering pumps shown in another drawing] for delivering said liquid chemical reactants respectively to said inlets at pressures not greater than 60 pounds per square inch." Claim 15 makes no mention of any "stationary baffle means" and requires "means" for delivery of the liquid reactants to the inlets at pressures less than 300 pounds per square inch. Claim 16 includes most of the limitations of claim 14, and further requires that the rotatable mixing means and stationary baffle means within the head present "flat" surfaces. Claim 17, dependent from claim 16, recites the presence of valve 32 in the outlet to maintain pressure in the head not greater than 15 pounds per square inch.
The reference is:
Miner 2,706,108 April 12, 1955
In sustaining the rejection of the claims on Miner, the board noted that not only does appellants' method differ from that of Miner but also that the particular structure disclosed by appellants differs from the prior art. We think that to be self-evident from the drawings and description above. The board was of the view, however, that the claims "are drawn in such broad and general terms that they do not define any significant or unobvious variations over the structure disclosed in Miner." Whether the board erred in that conclusion is the issue brought to this court by appellants' reasons of appeal.
Appellants urge that claims 6, 8 and 14 distinguish over Miner because of the structure recited therein for effecting mechanical shearing action on the reactants. As a mechanical structure limitation, appellants rely on the rotatable paddle or impeller means and stationary baffles being "closely spaced" (claims 6 and 8) or "in operative relation" (claim 14) so as to cause shearing, and they contend that to interpret Miner in a manner which would make his pins
The board noted that Miner desires a gentle blending action, not a shearing action, and went on to point out that whether shear takes place in Miner is not a function of the close spacing of the rotatable mixing means and baffles alone, but also depends upon the nature of the reactants and the speed of rotation of the rotor. As evidence of that, the board referred to Miner's disclosure, above quoted, that operation of his apparatus with excessive rotor speeds
Appellants argue that claims 6, 8, 14 and 15 distinguish over Miner in specifying that the hollow mixing head is "single chambered." According to appellants, Miner shows four chambers.
In answer to a similar argument, we think the board correctly stated:
A chamber is "an enclosed or compartmented space designed for a special purpose"
Appellants next urge that claim 8 distinguishes over Miner by reciting a "cylindrical mixing head." The examiner was of the view that Miner "has a generally cylindrical chamber with projecting portions around the walls thereof," and the board found the term "insufficient to distinguish from Miner since the Miner head is also cylindrical, albeit not of the same shape as disclosed by appellant."
We agree with appellants that Miner's chamber cannot reasonably be said to be a cylinder in view of the common meaning of that word. See In re Beach, 345 F.2d 209, 52 CCPA 1349. Whether it would be obvious to use a cylindrical shape in an apparatus such as Miner is not before us, as no rejection on that ground was affirmed by the board.
As to claims 14-17, appellants contend they distinguish from Miner in reciting "means for delivering said liquid chemical reactants respectively to said inlets at pressures not greater than" 60 or 300 pounds per square inch. The board thought those limitations related
Appellants point out that Miner says nothing about the values of delivery pressures employed by him. While Miner makes it clear that metering pumps may be used to deliver the latex and froth, we agree with appellants that it is not at all clear from Miner what delivery pressures are contemplated by him. Miner does not support the board's statement that the reference discloses a "low pressure delivery."
Insofar as the board regarded the limitation relative to the inlet pressure
We do not find the "means" recited in claims 14-17 to be disclosed by Miner.
In summary, the decision is affirmed as to claim 6 and reversed as to claims 8 and 14-17.
MARTIN, Judge (concurring in part and dissenting in part).
I agree with the affirmance of the rejection of claim 6. I do not agree with reversal of claims 8 and 14 through 17.
There is certain fundamental knowledge about mixing and delivery which I am convinced anyone in this art would know. It is fundamental geometry that a mixing container can be cylindrical in shape. Likewise, it is fundamental that a funnel can be a convenient "means" for delivery of liquid reactants to an inlet under atmospheric pressure (on which pressure the claims read). Thus, even though those particular limitations noted by the majority are not disclosed in Miner, I do not think the resulting differences are such that the subject matter as a whole is non-obvious. Miner's key teaching is that the mixing rotors will "tend to break up the uniform bubbles of the froth and to shear the latex" if rotated rapidly. An apparatus devised to embody that key teaching of Miner and falling within the scope of appellants' broad claims 8 and 14-17 would be obvious in the context of the above fundamental knowledge. I would affirm all the claims on appeal.
United States Senior District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, designated to participate in place of Chief Judge WORLEY, pursuant to provisions of Section 294(d), Title 28, United States Code.