This appeal is from the decision of the Board of Appeals holding the claims of application Serial No. 687,217
The invention relates to self-locking electrical terminals for connecting the ends of a pair of wires, and particularly to tapered tabs of small size made from sheet metal. The flat tabs are tapered at an angle of about 3 to 4 degrees between the sides of the tab in order that the receptacle-entering end of the tab is narrower than the wire-connected end. The receptacle, connected through a ferrule to the bared end of an insulated conductor, is adapted to be forced on the tab to bring the angled sides into a force-fit frictional connection. In addition, a pair of flanges on the receptacle provides spring elements serving to confine the tab on insertion and to press it into contact with the bottom portion of the receptacle engaging the underside of the tab.
Claim 3 is illustrative of the invention claimed and reads as follows:
The five claims have been considered below and in the briefs on appeal as falling into two separate groups.
Appellant's brief summarizes the rejections as follows:
A preliminary question presented is whether claims may properly be rejected for lacking patentable distinction over claims of a copending application. In other words, can there be "double patenting" without a patent? Appellant states it this way:
The examiner cited sections 305, 305.02(a), and 822.01 of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure as authority for the rejections based on the claims of the Carlson application. The solicitor points out that in the case of In re Stanley, 214 F.2d 151, 41 CCPA 956.
It is a well established practice to reject claims in an application related to another application in interference over the counts of the interference, and to suspend action pending the award of priority.
It appears that appellant here seeks to test the correctness of the "double patenting" rejection over the claims of the commonly assigned Carlson application in interference. We agree with appellant that no issue of estoppel or election of one application at the expense of another is here presented. It seems clear that appellant has the right to appeal the "double patenting" rejection without foregoing the Carlson application.
The issue here presented, therefore, is whether a patentable distinction exists between the claims on appeal and those in Carlson. In re Zickendraht, 319 F.2d 225, 50 CCPA 1529; In re Simmons, 312 F.2d 821, 50 CCPA 990.
An understanding of the differences between the claims on appeal and those in Carlson is aided by reference to the drawings.
As to claim 2, appellant notes that "planar side wall portions" are required.
The board said, with respect to claim 1:
While the board's statement points out similarity of disclosure, it is the claims of Carlson which must be considered. In re Greenlee, 222 F.2d 739, 42 CCPA 926. Claim 8 of the Carlson application includes "opposed side wall portions" connected by an integral web, with "inwardly directed flanges extending from said side wall portions and overhanging said web." We agree with the board that the spring members of appellant's device as claimed are patentably indistinct from those claimed in Carlson. The spring members grasp the tab and clamp it between the base web and the ends of the spring members in each case. In order to clamp the tab, the spring members obviously "extend downwardly" to some extent.
As noted by the solicitor, appellant discloses planar side walls converging within a specific angular range in both the clip and tab to achieve a force fit with minimum effort, and that "Appellant's claim 1 sets forth neither the planar side walls nor the convergence of the walls." Claim 2, which calls for "substantially planar" side walls, does not set forth the convergence of the walls. Therefore, as the solicitor states, "whether the side wall is planar or curved is merely a matter of choice between structures obvious to one skilled in the art * * *." We find nothing unobvious in making side walls "substantially planar." Therefore, we will sustain the rejection of claims 1 and 2 over the claims of the Carlson application.
Claims 3, 4 and 5 are rejected as unpatentable over the allowed claims of Carlson in view of any one of the following patents:
Stiles 735,839 Aug. 11, 1903 Hayes 2,579,739 Dec. 25, 1951 Batcheller 2,820,212 Jan. 14, 1958
The Stiles patent discloses a tapered element clamped in a correspondingly tapered receptacle to provide a wedge-fit mechanical and electrical contact.
The Hayes patent discloses a "tapered notch" which cooperates with downwardly extending tips of the receptacle to perform a clamping function.
The Batcheller patent discloses an electrical connector having converging walls for receiving and clamping tapered elements.
Claims 3, 4 and 5 define the spring members only as overhanging, but differ from claims 1 and 2 in reciting the tapered configuration of the receptacle. The board did not find the converging taper patentably significant in view of the secondary references, each of which shows tapered elements clamped by converging walls. The board said:
Appellant argues that the tapered connector of claims 3, 4 and 5 is "of a class and nature completely different from that disclosed by Carlson." Again, it is important to note that only the claims of Carlson may be relied on here, in spite of appellant's consideration of the "teachings" of the entire disclosure.
It is true that the Carlson claims are not limited to tapered connectors, but in view of the presence of the wedge-fit taper concept in the secondary references, we are not satisfied that such a limitation defines an unobvious variation over the connector claimed in Carlson.
Accordingly, the decision of the Board of Appeals is affirmed.