This appeal is from the decision of the Patent Office Board of Appeals, which affirmed the rejection of claims 1-9, 13 and 17 in appellants' application serial No. 392,635, filed August 27, 1964, for "Polymeric Material and Process of Preparing the Same."
The invention is a new and unobvious class of polyimides useful in making molded articles and also useful as coating or self-supporting films. Claim 1 is illustrative for framing the issues before us:
The rejection is solely for insufficient disclosure, the examiner having stated that the recitations "`a diamine' and `a
It has not been contended by the Patent Office that the disclosure fails to enable a person skilled in the art to make and use the entire class of polyimides claimed. The sole issue is whether the specification satisfies the description requirement of the first paragraph of 35 U.S.C. § 112, with respect to claims of the breadth sought here.
In recent cases we have recognized that the statutory requirement that the specification "describe the invention" might not be met even where the specification satisfies the related statutory requirement that it "enable any person skilled in the art * * * to make and use the same." In In re Robins, 429 F.2d 452, 57 CCPA 1321 (1970), in considering a possible rejection under the first paragraph of § 112, we stated that such a rejection
429 F.2d at 456 (emphasis added). In In re Ahlbrecht, 435 F.2d 908 decided January 7, 1971, we held that the description requirement had not been satisfied as to a claimed class of esters, even though the specification might have indirectly enabled one skilled in the art to make and use the entire class. It is clear from Robins and Ahlbrecht that it is possible for a specification to enable the practice of an invention as broadly as it is claimed, and still not describe that invention.
It is the position of the Patent Office that the expression "a diamine" is too broad because the specification describes using only aliphatic and aromatic diamines and the expression would include heterocyclic diamines. Appellants agree that the expression includes heterocyclic diamines but contend that the description of diamines in the specification is as broad as the recitation in the claims. We agree. The specification states: "One of the objects of the present invention is to produce a polyimide reaction product of (1) a diamine, (2) * * * and (3) * * *." The specification later states: "The first reactant is a diamine which may be either an aliphatic diamine or an aromatic diamine." (Emphasis ours.) The solicitor would have us read "must" for "may." While we recognize that it is a common practice in drafting patent applications to use "may" in a mandatory sense, we note that the originally filed claims, which are part of the disclosure, recited "a diamine" without further limitation as the first reactant. We therefore agree with appellant that "may" should be interpreted in this case as illustrative and not as limiting the description of diamines to aliphatic and aromatic diamines. The same considerations apply to refute the solicitor's contention that since the specific aliphatic diamines listed in the specification are saturated, the only aliphatic diamines described as reactants are saturated.
We turn now to the recitation of "a different dianhydride of an organic tetracarboxylic acid." The examiner held,
We find nothing in this passage which would limit the description of dianhydrides by excluding known heterocyclic dianhydrides. The language used in listing the seven carbocyclic dianhydrides is clearly illustrative and does not limit the broader description contained in the preceding sentences. Moreover, we note that the expression in question appeared in the originally filed claims.
The decision of the board is reversed.
BALDWIN, Judge (dissenting).
Now that it as been settled that there is a description of the invention requirement compliance with which necessitates inquiry of a slightly different nature than that required by the statutory mandate of describing the manner and process of making and using the invention, I must respectfully dissent from the manner in which the majority here has approached this requirement.
In the Robins and Ahlbrecht opinions referred to by the majority, and now in this case, the court has indicated that the question of enablement is largely an objective determination. Enabling disclosure may be present in a specification or in material which is incorporated by reference into the specification regardless of whether such enablement is made apparent from a reading of the description contained in the specification. I would now go one step further and hold that the scope of enablement must be made apparent from the description alone. Both the Robins and Ahlbrecht decisions support this proposition. The majority opinion here, however, appears to suggest that such is not necessary.
The description in a patent specification is, of course, addressed to one having ordinary skill in the pertinent art. Implicit in the Robins decision and obvious from Ahlbrecht was the conclusion that the description must be such that one of ordinary skill would appreciate the scope of enablement being provided by the disclosure. In the case before us, the decision that the broad claim language is supported by the specification description appears to rest solely on a question of semantics. If the test were so narrow I would still dissent from the result in this case since I find it more reasonable to interpret the recitation on diamines, for example, as quoted by the majority, as being narrowed through the use of "either * * * or" to the two classes specifically mentioned. I would not stop here, however. The inquiry should never be merely semantic in nature. Mere correspondence between the language used in a claim and that employed in the specification has never been held to satisfy the requirements of the first paragraph of 35 U.S.C. § 112. I would hold that it doesn't satisfy any "description" requirement either.
In the case before us, the Patent Office tribunals, and in particular, the examiner — who must be presumed by us to be skilled in the pertinent art in the absence of evidence to the contrary — have disputed the fact that the scope of appellants'