This appeal is from the decision of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) Board of Appeals affirming the final rejection of claims 1-43, all the claims in application serial No. 96,285, filed December 8, 1970, entitled "Drying Method."
Appellants' invention centers around a process for making freeze-dried instant coffee. Claims 1, 6, 30, and 40 are illustrative:
The remaining claims are reproduced in the Appendix hereto. Appellants assert that their invention produces an instant coffee having a bulk density of 0.2-0.3 gm/cc, which corresponds to that of conventional spray-dried instant coffee.
Since the claims are somewhat elliptical in setting out the steps of appellants' process, we shall describe it further. An aqueous extract of coffee is prepared by percolating hot water through roasted and ground coffee beans. The extract is concentrated to have a solids content between 25% and 60% and is then charged with gas to produce a foam having a density between 0.4 and 0.8 gm/cc. The foam is frozen and ground into particles, preferably 0.25 to 2.0 mm in size, which are freeze-dried by conventional techniques.
Prosecution History and Rejections
The claims which remain on appeal fall into two broad groups: The "interference" claims 1, 2, 4, 37, and 38; and the "non-interference" claims, 6-35 and 40-43.
As originally filed, the application contained claims 1-5 copied from Pfluger et al. U. S. Patent No. 3,482,990 (Pfluger patent), issued December 9, 1969, on an application filed February 10, 1969. A letter under Rule 205(a), 37 CFR 1.205(a), requesting an interference with the Pfluger patent accompanied the application. By amendment, appellants transferred claims 6-35 from their 1966 application to the instant application. Claims 36-39, added by amendment, are modified versions of the previously copied claims and were presented for the purpose of providing a basis for phantom counts in an interference with the Pfluger patent under Rule 205(a) and Manual of Patent Examining Procedure § 1101.02. They depend from claim 2.
Pfluger et al. 3,482,990 Dec. 9, 1969 De George 3,253,420 May 31, 1966 (application filed Feb. 3, 1965) Carpenter et al. 2,974,497 Mar. 14, 1961 British patent 948,517 Feb. 5, 1964
The Pfluger patent issued on a chain of four applications: serial No. 800,353, filed Feb. 10, 1969, which was a continuation of serial No. 520,347, filed Jan. 13, 1966 (Pfluger 1966), which was a continuation-in-part of serial No. 309,410, filed Sept. 17, 1963 (Pfluger 1963), which was a continuation-in-part of serial No. 98,007, filed Mar. 24, 1961. The Pfluger patent discloses a process for making freeze-dried instant coffee which has as its goal minimizing the loss from a foamed extract of volatile aromatics which contribute substantially to the natural flavor of coffee and other foods.
De George describes apparatus and methods for freezing liquid, unfoamed coffee extract prior to drying on continuous belts refrigerated by brine tanks contacting the bottom surfaces of the belts. The claims of De George are directed to processes for facilitating the removal of the frozen sheet of coffee extract from the belt before it is freeze dried.
The British patent discloses a rapid freeze-drying process in which the food product is frozen, milled into small particles which are spread from a hopper in single-particle layers onto plates, and freeze-dried in a vacuum chamber. More details of the disclosure are supplied infra.
Carpenter discloses the cooling of a refrigeration belt by spraying cold brine onto the underside of the belt.
The examiner made multiple rejections which were addressed by the board in eight categories, seven of which are before us for review. Category I covers the "interference" claims, which were rejected on the Pfluger patent, claims 1, 2, and 4 under 35 U.S.C. § 102 and claims 37 and 38 under § 103. The board agreed with the examiner's position that these claims were not entitled to the benefit of appellants' 1965 Swiss priority date because they were not supported by appellants' parent and Swiss applications. The limitations held to be unsupported were "at least 35% [solids content]" in claim 1, "between 35% and 60% soluble solids" in claims 2 and 4, and "pressure of less than 500 microns" and "final product temperature of less than 110°F." in claim 4. For that reason appellants were held to be junior to the Pfluger patent on the basis of Pfluger's 1966 filing date. In light of appellants' refusal to file a Rule 204(c)
The Category III rejection was reversed by the board.
In Category IV, claims 6-8, 11-20, and 40-43 were rejected under § 103 on the disclosure of Pfluger 1963
Category V added De George to the § 103 rejection of claims 9, 10, 30, and 32-35. The board agreed with the examiner that the temperatures, foam thicknesses, and belt lengths and speeds covered by these claims are disclosed in De George, and that it would be obvious to use De George's moving belt apparatus in the Pfluger process.
In Category VI claims 21-23 and 26-29 were rejected under § 103 on Pfluger in view of the British patent, which was relied on for its teaching of the concentration of coffee extract by freezing to a solids content of 27 to 28%. Pfluger was applied to the claims under the rationale employed in Category IV.
Category VII was the rejection of claims 24 and 25 under § 103 on Pfluger, the British patent, and De George, which was relied on to show "the deposition of a coffee extract on a moving belt prior to grinding and freeze drying." The board otherwise relied on the reasoning in Categories V and VI.
Under Category VIII claim 31 was rejected on Pfluger and De George under § 103 for the reasons of Category V, with reliance on Carpenter to show refrigeration of the belt by spraying refrigerant onto the bottom of the belt instead of using De George's brine tanks.
The "Interference" Claims — 1, 2, 4, 37, and 38
The dispositive issue under this heading is whether appellants' parent and Swiss applications comply with 35 U.S.C. § 112, first paragraph, including the description requirement, as to the subject matter of these claims. If they do, these claims are entitled to the filing dates of the parent application under 35 U.S.C. § 120; In re Lukach, 442 F.2d 967, 58 CCPA 1233, 169 USPQ 795 (1971), and the Swiss application under 35 U.S.C. § 119, Kawai v. Metlesics, 480 F.2d 880, 887-88, 178 USPQ 158, 164 (Cust. & Pat.App.1973). Since the PTO relies only on Pfluger 1966 to provide the effective U.S. filing date of the patent as a reference against these claims under §§ 102(e) and 103, a right of foreign priority in appellants' Swiss application will antedate Pfluger 1966 and remove it as prior art against the claims.
The only defect asserted below in appellants' parent and Swiss application disclosures that covers all these claims is that the applications do not contain written descriptions of the solids content limitations of the
Appellants' parent and Swiss applications contain virtually identical disclosures on this point. Both disclose that the coffee extract initially produced by percolation of water through ground roasted coffee is concentrated prior to foaming by suitable means "until a concentration of 25 to 60% solid matter is reached." Examples in each disclose specific embodiments having solids contents of 36% and 50%.
In our view, it is necessary to decide only whether the Swiss application complies with the description requirement of § 112 with respect to the questioned limitations. There is no question that the instant application supports claims 1, 2, and 4, which are original claims in that application. Appellants and the solicitor urge us to decide this case by determining whether the broad rule of In re Waymouth, supra, is still valid or must be disapproved. In the interest of judicial economy, we decline this entreaty since the issue of whether the Swiss application contains written descriptions of the disputed limitations of claims 1, 2, 4, 37, and 38, being addressed to strict compliance with § 112, first paragraph, is dispositive regardless of the validity of Waymouth in its own factual setting. The sufficiency of the parent U.S. application need not be separately decided since appellants must have the benefit of their Swiss application date to antedate the Pfluger patent.
The function of the description requirement is to ensure that the inventor had possession, as of the filing date of the application relied on, of the specific subject matter later claimed by him; how the specification accomplishes this is not material. In re Smith, 481 F.2d 910, 178 USPQ 620 (Cust. & Pat.App.1973), and cases cited therein. It is not necessary that the application describe the claim limitations exactly, In re Lukach, supra, but only so clearly that persons of ordinary skill in the art will recognize from the disclosure that appellants invented processes including those limitations. In re Smythe, 480 F.2d 1376, 1382, 178 USPQ 279, 284 (Cust. & Pat.App.1973).
The primary consideration is factual and depends on the nature of the invention and the amount of knowledge imparted to those skilled in the art by the disclosure. The factual nature of the inquiry was emphasized in In re Ruschig, 379 F.2d 990, 995-96, 54 CCPA 1551, 1558-59, 154 USPQ 118, 123 (1967), which involved the question whether a broad generic disclosure "described" the single chemical compound claimed:
Appellants refer to 35 U.S.C. § 112 as the presumed basis for this rejection and emphasize language therein about enabling one skilled in the art to make the invention, arguing therefrom that one skilled in the art would be enabled by the specification to make chlorpropamide. We find the argument unpersuasive for two reasons. First, it presumes some motivation
Broadly articulated rules are particularly inappropriate in this area. See, e. g., In re Smith, 458 F.2d 1389, 1394, 59 CCPA 1025, 1033, 173 USPQ 679, 683 (1972), in which this court felt obliged to overrule a supposed "rule" of In re Risse, 378 F.2d 948, 952-53, 54 CCPA 1495, 1500-01, 154 USPQ 1, 5 (1967). Mere comparison of ranges is not enough, nor are mechanical rules a substitute for an analysis of each case on its facts to determine whether an application conveys to those skilled in the art the information that the applicant invented the subject matter of the claims. In other words, we must decide whether the invention appellants seek to protect by their claims is part of the invention that appellants have described as theirs in the specification. That what appellants claim as patentable to them is less than what they describe as their invention is not conclusive if their specification also reasonably describes that which they do claim. Inventions are constantly made which turn out not to be patentable, and applicants frequently discover during the course of prosecution that only a part of what they invented and originally claimed is patentable. As we said in a different context in In re Saunders, 444 F.2d 599, 607, 58 CCPA 1316, 1327, 170 USPQ 213, 220 (1971):
Claims 1 and 4 present little difficulty. Claim 1 recites a solids content range of "at least 35%," which reads literally on embodiments employing solids contents outside the 25-60% range described in the Swiss application. As in cases involving the enablement requirement of § 112, e. g., In re Armbruster, 512 F.2d 676, 185 USPQ 152 (Cust. & Pat.App.1975), we are of the opinion that the PTO has the initial burden of presenting evidence or reasons why persons skilled in the art would not recognize in the disclosure a description of the invention defined by the claims. By pointing to the fact that claim 1 reads on embodiments outside the scope of the description, the
Claim 4 contains the additional limitations, relating to the "final product temperature" and the pressure at which the frozen foam is vacuum freeze-dried, of "less than 110°F." and "less than 500 microns." "Final product temperature," it appears, refers to the temperature at which so-called bound water is driven off from the product by heating after the vacuum drying phase has ended. We find no description of final product temperature in appellants' Swiss application. It is not disputed that appellants do not expressly disclose final product temperatures or this secondary drying step. They again appeal, however, to the Pfluger patent disclosure and to an amendment entered in the application on appeal (not objected to as new matter by the examiner) to show that final product temperatures are conventional in the art and need not be expressly disclosed. The amendment is clearly irrelevant since claim 4, an originally filed claim, is its own written description in the appealed application. In re Gardner, 475 F.2d 1389, 177 USPQ 396, rehearing denied, 480 F.2d 879, 178 USPQ 149 (Cust. & Pat.App.1973). The issue is whether the Swiss application describes the claimed final product temperature, not whether the instant application does so. The Pfluger patent disclosure is also unavailable to appellants. The Swiss application was filed before Pfluger issued, which means that for the purposes of § 112 the Pfluger disclosure is not evidence of what those skilled in the art considered conventional at the time the Swiss application was filed. In re Glass, 492 F.2d 1228, 181 USPQ 31 (Cust. & Pat.App.1974).
Claims 1 and 4, therefore, are not entitled to the benefit of the filing date of appellants' Swiss application.
Claims 2, 37, and 38, which claim a solids content range of "between 35% and 60%," present a different question. They clearly claim a range within the described broad range of 25% to 60%, solids; the question is whether, on the facts, the PTO has presented sufficient reason to doubt that the broader described range also describes the somewhat narrower claimed range. We note that there is no evidence, and the PTO does not contend otherwise, that there is in fact any distinction, in terms of the operability of appellants' process or of the achieving of any desired result, between the claimed lower limit of solids content and that disclosed in the Swiss application. We see an important practical distinction between broad generic chemical compound inventions, for example, as in In re Ruschig, supra, in which each compound within the genus is a separate embodiment of the invention, and inventions like that at bar, in which the range of solids content is but one of several process parameters. What those skilled in the art would expect from using 34% solids content in the concentrated extract prior to foaming instead of 35% is a different matter from what those skilled in the art would expect from the next adjacent homolog of a compound whose properties are disclosed in the specification. We wish to make it clear that we are not creating a rule applicable to all description requirement cases involving
In the context of this invention, in light of the description of the invention as employing solids contents within the range of 25-60% along with specific embodiments of 36% and 50%, we are of the opinion that, as a factual matter, persons skilled in the art would consider processes employing a 35-60% solids content range to be part of appellants' invention and would be led by the Swiss disclosure so to conclude. Cf. In re Ruschig, supra. The PTO has done nothing more than to argue lack of literal support, which is not enough. If lack of literal support alone were enough to support a rejection under § 112, then the statement of In re Lukach, supra, 442 F.2d at 969, 58 CCPA at 1235, 169 USPQ at 796, that "the invention claimed does not have to be described in ipsis verbis in order to satisfy the description requirement of § 112," is empty verbiage. The burden of showing that the claimed invention is not described in the specification rests on the PTO in the first instance, and it is up to the PTO to give reasons why a description not in ipsis verbis is insufficient.
We conclude, therefore, that claims 2, 37, and 38 are entitled to the benefit of the filing date of appellants' Swiss application.
Since the Pfluger patent is not available as prior art as of its 1966 date under §§ 102(e) and 103 against claims 2, 37, and 38, the rejection of those claims is reversed. The rejection of claims 1 and 4 is affirmed. Appellants filed no affidavit under Rule 204(c) showing a date of invention for claims 1 and 4 prior to Pfluger's 1966 filing date, In re Gemassmer, 319 F.2d 539, 51 CCPA 726, 138 USPQ 229 (1963), and have not antedated Pfluger as to those claims under 35 U.S.C. §§ 119 and 120.
The New Matter Rejection
The issue to be decided here is whether the limitation appearing in claim 6, carried forward into the other claims affected by this rejection, that the frozen foam be ground "to a particle size of at least 0.25 mm" before it is dried, was added to the instant application in violation of 35 U.S.C. § 132. This new matter rejection rests on a finding by the PTO that the application as filed did not describe this limitation. Thus, the converse of what we said in In re Bowen, 492 F.2d 859, 864, 181 USPQ 48, 52 (Cust. & Pat.App.1974), is true in this case, namely, that this new matter rejection is tantamount to a rejection of the claims on the description requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 112, first paragraph. The solicitor agrees with this.
We conclude that the originally filed specification clearly conveys to those of ordinary skill in the art that appellants invented processes in which the frozen foam is ground to a particle size of "at least .025 mm," and not, as the PTO asserts, only processes in which the particle sizes are no larger than 2 mm. See In re Smythe, supra.
The specification states, inter alia (emphasis ours):
The examples speak of drying frozen ground particles of sizes between 0.1 and 2 mm. While the specification indicates that the 0.25 to 2.0 mm range is preferred, we think it clearly indicates that, as an alternative embodiment of appellants' invention,
The "Non-Interference" Claims — 6-35 and 40-43
In the Examiner's Answer, appellants were granted the benefit of the filing date of their Swiss application for claims 16-25, 27-35, and 40-43. The examiner stated: "Claims 6-15 and 26, except for new matter, would otherwise be supported in the Swiss application." Our reversal of the new matter rejection eliminates the basis for the examiner's refusal to give claims 6-15 and 26 the benefit of appellants' Swiss filing date. Appellants' parent and Swiss applications contain the same disclosures concerning particle size as does the application on appeal, and we shall treat all the claims under this heading as entitled to the right of foreign priority claimed by appellants.
Our analysis of these claims will be broken down by the type of claim involved, i. e., process, apparatus, and product, and not as the board addressed them. In each discussion we will apply as prior art under § 102(e) only those portions of the Pfluger patent disclosure that were carried forward from the Pfluger 1963 application (Pfluger 1963) through the two subsequent applications into the patent, as did the board. In re Lund, supra.
A. Process Claims 6-14 and 16-29
There are four independent process claims: claim 6, from which claims 7-14, 16, and 17 depend; claim 18; claim 19, from which claim 20 depends; and claim 21, from which claims 22-29 depend.
Pfluger 1963 contains the following disclosure, which, in substance, is carried forward into the patent:
Example I, the sole disclosed embodiment in which the foam density is given, shows
Claims 19 and 20 recite a foam density of "between about 0.6 and about 0.8 gm/cc," outside the range disclosed by Pfluger 1963. The examiner's position was that Pfluger's disclosure of 0.5 gm/cc as an upper density limit suggests "about 0.6 gm/cc" as the lower limit in the processes of claims 19 and 20 "in the absence of a critical difference between them." We see no such suggestion. By preferring a high foam overrun, i. e., lower rather than higher foam densities, Pfluger 1963 teaches away from employing higher foam densities than its disclosed upper limit of 0.5 gm/cc. Appellants' "about 0.6 gm/cc" lower limit is sufficiently precise to describe foam densities above 0.5 gm/cc and thus outside the range of foam densities that persons of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to use by Pfluger 1963's disclosure of a preference for high overrun foams no denser than 0.5 gm/cc. The examiner's comment about the lack of a showing of a critical difference is based on his failure to appreciate that Pfluger 1963 teaches away from increasing foam density. The rejection of claims 19 and 20 under § 103 is reversed.
Claims 6-14, 16, 17, and 21-29 recite foam density ranges of "between about 0.4 and 0.8 gm/cc" and solids contents in the range of "about 25% to 60%." Claims 6-10, 12-14, 17, and 26 recite particle sizes of "at least 0.25 mm," claims 16 and 27 say "about 0.25 to 2 mm," claims 11 and 28 recite particle sizes "approximately equal to that of roast and ground coffee," and claims 21-25 do not mention particle size. Pfluger 1963's disclosed foam density range of 0.1-0.5 gm/cc covers values within the scope of all the above-listed claims; the solids contents disclosed in Pfluger 1963 Examples I (27%) and V (30%) are within the claimed ranges of 25-60%. Pfluger 1963 clearly teaches a process for making instant coffee comprising the steps of preparing and concentrating aqueous coffee extract, foaming the extract then freezing the foam, and drying the frozen foam, in that order. Pfluger 1963 teaches fragmenting the frozen foam into 3/4-inch pieces before drying; 3/4 inch is, of course, "at least 0.25 mm." Of course, the disclosure in the prior art of any value within a claimed range is an anticipation of the claimed range. We appreciate the arguments made in In re Malagari, 499 F.2d 1297, 182 USPQ 549 (Cust. & Pat.App.1974), and the discussion In re Orfeo, 440 F.2d 439, 58 CCPA 1123, 169 USPQ 487 (1971), to the effect that ranges which overlap or lie inside ranges disclosed by the prior art may be patentable if the applicant can show criticality in the claimed range by evidence of unexpected results. The rejections here are under § 103, not § 102, which requires us to consider appellants' argument that their invention and Pfluger's disclosure are directed to different purposes and that persons of ordinary skill in the art would not look to Pfluger 1963 for a solution to the problem addressed by appellants. See In re Orfeo, supra.
Appellants' contentions were thus stated in their main brief:
Without an antecedent basis for it in their application, appellants may not use this rationale to show unobviousness. In re Davies, 475 F.2d 667, 177 USPQ 381 (Cust. & Pat.App.1973). While appellants do disclose what the bulk density of their product
The inadequacy of this disclosure is evident. There is no mention of regulating the final product density or of controlling solids content. We therefore see no basis for depreciating Pfluger as evidence of the scope and content of the prior art, as well as of the level of ordinary skill in this art, as appellants would have us do. Nor is there any factual basis for concluding that the ranges claimed by appellants are critical in themselves to their alleged inventive contribution.
We find no error in the rejection under § 103 of claims 6-14, 16, and 21-28, which recite no final product density. The only difference between claims 6, 12-14, and 16 and the Pfluger 1963 disclosure upon which appellants rely to show the unobviousness of the subject matter of the claims (and which does not relate to solids content or foam density) is the step of "grinding the frozen foam to a particle size of at least 0.25 mm" prior to freeze-drying.
Claim 8 likewise recites no final product density, but it requires that the freezing of the foam take place over a period of 7 to 25 minutes, which, appellants' application indicates, produces instant coffee "having a pleasant dark colour." Pfluger 1963 discloses freezing in liquid nitrogen or liquid air, which would be instantaneous, or rapid freezing on a belt, and states further, "The foam may be frozen at a high or a more gradual rate without any apparent difference in the utility thereof insofar as freeze drying is concerned * * *." (Emphasis ours.) Appellants have not shown that only their claimed freezing time produces coffee with a pleasant dark color. Thus, they have not overcome the prima facie case of obviousness made out by Pfluger 1963.
In light of appellants' concession in the amendment in which they added claims 37-39 that freeze concentration was known in the art, the rejection of claims 21-23, and
Claims 24 and 25, to which Pfluger 1963, De George, and the British patent were applied under § 103, call for the temperature and foam limitations already discussed under claims 9 and 10, supra. Temperature and foam thicknesses within the claimed ranges are disclosed by Pfluger 1963 in Example VI (freezing foam at -30° F. on a belt and subsequently loading foam onto trays to a 1-inch (approx. 25 mm) depth for vacuum drying). Appellants do not allege that the ranges of claims 24 and 25 are critical.
Claims 17, 18, and 29, on the other hand, recite the bulk density of the final product made by each process in positive terms. The board dismissed these final product density limitations as being merely recitations of the inherent result of observing the foam density and solids content ranges set forth in these claims. Although we found above that appellants' specification as filed does not disclose regulating product density by controlling the foam density and solids content in the process and that claims which failed to recite controlled product density could not rely on this feature to distinguish over the prior art under § 103, these claims do require such regulation or control, by implication through their express recitation of the density of the final product to be obtained from the processes they delimit. That persons skilled in the art may not know how to ensure the claimed final product densities from the specification is pertinent only to a rejection on the enablement requirement of § 112, first paragraph, which is not before us. The only question here is whether the subject matter of claims 17, 18, and 29, the scope of which is unquestionably clear, is obvious under § 103.
Pfluger 1963 discloses no final product densities and contains no teaching on how to achieve any particular final product density from practicing its process. The inherency of final product density adverted to by the board can be gleaned only from appellants' disclosure, if anywhere, which may not be used against them as prior art absent some admission that matter disclosed in the specification is in the prior art. In re Kuehl, 475 F.2d 658, 177 USPQ 250 (Cust. & Pat.App.1973); cf. In re Nomiya, 509 F.2d 566, 184 USPQ 607 (Cust. & Pat.App.1975). In the absence of disclosure of final product densities or how to achieve any desired density in the prior art applied by the PTO to claims 17, 18 and 29, we cannot say that the subject matter of these claims would have been obvious to persons of ordinary skill in the art.
The rejection of process claims 6-14, 16, and 21-28 is affirmed; the rejection of claims 17-20, and 29 is reversed.
B. Apparatus Claims 30-35
The preamble of independent claim 30, carried forward into claims 31-35, recites that the apparatus is "for carrying out the process in claim 6." Appellants contend that this preamble gives "life and meaning" to the claims, serving to define the interrelationship of the mechanical elements recited in the body of the claims. This argument appears to be based on Kropa v. Robie, 187 F.2d 150, 38 CCPA 858, 88 USPQ 478 (1951), the classic case in this court on the construction of claim preambles. In Kropa the court surveyed prior cases and
While we do not subscribe to the broad proposition that process limitations can never serve to distinguish the subject matter of apparatus claims from the prior art, we fail to see how the general process parameters of claim 6 require an arrangement of the apparatus means recited in claims 30-35 more specific than that set forth in the body of each claim. In no claim is the preamble relied on to provide an antecedent basis for terms in the body. See In re Higbee, 527 F.2d 1405, 188 USPQ 488 (Cust. & Pat.App.1976). The context of each invention is clear without reference to claim 6, unlike the situation in Kropa, supra, in which the preamble "An abrasive article" was the only portion of the claim defining the relationship of the components recited in the body of the claim; the court said, "The term calls forth a distinct relationship between the proportions of grain and resin comprising the article." 187 F.2d at 152, 38 CCPA at 862, 88 USPQ at 481.
Appellants do not argue the patentability of claims 32-35 separately from claim 30 and concede that Carpenter discloses the feature added in claim 31. We find that the teachings of Pfluger and De George (and Carpenter on claim 31) show that the subject matter of claims 30-35 would have been obvious to persons of ordinary skill in the art. These references are to be viewed for what they disclose in their entireties and not merely for their inventive contributions to the art. In re Ogiue, 517 F.2d 1382, 1387, 186 USPQ 227, 232 (Cust. & Pat.App.1975).
Pfluger 1963, in a portion carried forward to the patent, discloses the following:
Example VI of Pfluger 1963, which is carried forward as Example III of the Pfluger patent, shows heat controlling the vacuum chamber to assure a product temperature below -10°F. [De George teaches that the melting point of a 28% solids content extract is about 27°F., whereas the eutectic temperature is constant regardless of concentration
C. Product Claims 15 and 40-43
These claims are cast in product-by-process form. Although appellants argue, successfully we have found, that the Pfluger 1963 disclosure does not suggest the control of bulk density afforded by appellants' process, the patentability of the products defined by the claims, rather than the processes for making them, is what we must gauge in light of the prior art. See In re Bridge ford, 357 F.2d 679, 53 CCPA 1182, 149 USPQ 55 (1966). Each of these claims defines a freeze-dried instant coffee product made by processes which, appellants have contended with respect to their process claims, produce, by virtue of the foam density and solids content ranges taught by appellants, products having a bulk density comparable to spray-dried instant coffee, i.e., 0.2-0.3 gm/cc as indicated in appellants' specification. The solids content and foam density ranges disclosed by Pfluger 1963 overlap those of appellants, and, it appears, the Pfluger process using solids contents and foam densities overlapping those of appellants will produce instant coffee which is indistinguishable from appellants' products. There is no evidence showing that Pfluger's product prepared, for example, using an extract of 30% solids content foamed to a density of 0.5 gm/cc differs from appellants' claimed products in any way, certainly not in any unobvious way. See In re Avery, 518 F.2d 1228, 1233-34, 186 USPQ 161, 165-66 (Cust. & Pat.App. 1975). That some of the products covered by appellants' claims may not be disclosed or suggested by Pfluger 1963 is not relevant to patentability, since the claims embrace other subject matter completely disclosed by Pfluger 1963, complete disclosure in the prior art being the epitome of obviousness. In re Pearson, 494 F.2d 1399, 181 USPQ 641 (Cust. & Pat.App.1974). The rejection of these product claims under § 103 on Pfluger
The appeal is dismissed as to withdrawn claims 3, 5, 36, and 39. The decision of the board is affirmed as to claims 1, 4, 6-16, 21-28, 30-35 and 40-43, and is reversed as to claims 2, 17-20, 29, 37, and 38.
2. The process of claim 1 wherein the extract is concentrated to between 35% and 60% soluble solids prior to the foaming step.
4. The process of claim 2 wherein the frozen foam is vacuum freeze-dried at a pressure of less than 500 microns and a final product temperature of less than 110°F.
5. The process of claim 3 wherein the frozen foam is vacuum freeze-dried at a pressure of less than 500 microns and a final product temperature of less than 110°C.
7. A process according to claim 6 in which said inert gas is at least one of the following gases, namely carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and nitrogen.
8. A process according to claim 6 in which the foam is frozen during 7 to 25 minutes.
9. A process according to claim 6 in which the foam is frozen on a moving belt which is cooled to a temperature between -12 and -70°C.
10. A process according to claim 6 wherein the foam is spread on the belt at a layer thickness of 10 to 40 mm.
11. A process according to claim 6 in which the frozen foam is ground, before freeze-drying, to a particle size approximately equal to that of roast and ground coffee.
12. A process according to claim 6 in which an aromatic condensate obtained by stripping roast and ground coffee is added to said concentrated extract before it is transformed into a foam.
13. A process according to claim 6 in which, after freeze-drying, the powdered coffee extract is aromatised by incorporation therein of 0.1 to 0.5% by weight of an aromatic condensate obtained by stripping of roast and ground coffee.
14. A process according to claim 13 in which said condensate is incorporated in said powdered extract in admixture with an oily carrier.
15. The coffee extract obtained by the process defined in claim 6.
16. Process according to claim 6 in which the frozen foam is ground to a particle size of about 0.25 to 2.0 mm.
17. Process according to claim 6 in which the freeze dried extract has a density of about 0.2 to 0.3 gm/cc.
18. Process for preparing a soluble coffee extract, which comprises adding inert gas to a concentrated aqueous extract of roast coffee having a solids content of about 25% to about 60% to provide a foam, freezing the foam to a solid mass, reducing the frozen foam to particles having a size of about 0.25 to 2.0 mm and freeze drying the frozen particles, the amount of inert gas added to the aqueous extract being sufficient to provide a freeze dried extract having a density between about 0.2 and 0.3 gm/cc.
19. Process for preparing a powdered coffee extract which comprises adding sufficient inert gas to a concentrated aqueous extract of roast coffee to provide a foam having a density between about 0.6 and about 0.8 gm/cc, freezing the foamed extract to a solid mass, grinding the frozen foam to an average particle size of 0.1 to 0.5 mm, freeze drying the ground particles to provide a finely powdered coffee extract, and agglomerating the finely powdered coffee extract.
20. Process according to claim 19, in which the powdered extract is agglomerated to provide an agglomerate having a density of about 0.2 to 0.3 gm/cc.
21. Process for preparing a powdered coffee extract which comprises increasing the soluble coffee solids content of an aqueous extract of roast ground coffee to about 25%-60% by freeze concentration, separating the concentrated extract from ice crystals, adding an inert gas to the concentrated aqueous extract to provide a foam having a density between about 0.4 and 0.8 gm/cc, freezing the foam to a solid mass and freeze drying the frozen foam.
22. Process according to claim 21 in which the inert gas is selected from the group consisting of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and nitrogen.
24. Process according to claim 21 in which the foam is frozen on a moving belt which is cooled to a temperature between -12 and -70°C.
25. Process according to claim 24 wherein the foam is spread on the belt at a layer thickness of 10 to 40 mm.
26. Process according to claim 21 in which the frozen foam is ground before freeze drying to a particle size of at least 0.25 mm.
27. Process according to claim 26 in which the frozen foam is ground to a particle size of about 0.25 to 2mm.
28. Process according to claim 21 in which the frozen foam is ground before freeze drying to a particle size approximately equal to that of roast and ground coffee.
29. Process according to claim 21 in which the freeze dried extract has a density of about 0.2-0.3 gm/cc.
31. An apparatus according to claim 30 in which the means for cooling the belt includes a plurality of sprinklers disposed to spray the refrigerant onto the underside of the belt.
32. An apparatus according to claim 30 in which the belt comprises two sections each provided with separate cooling means, the first of said sections being cooled to a temperature of -12 to -29°C and the second section to -40 to -70°C.
33. An apparatus according to claim 30 also comprising means for fragmenting and milling the frozen foam.
34. An apparatus according to claim 30 in which the length of said belt is 15 to 25 metres and the driving means is adapted to move said belt at a linear speed of about 0.5 to 1.5 m/min.
35. An apparatus according to claim 30 in which said chamber is adapted to be maintained at a temperature of -25 to -45°C.
36. The process of claim 2 wherein the concentrated extract is foamed to an overrun density of between about 0.1 to 0.8 gm/cc.
37. The process of claim 2 wherein the concentrated  extract is foamed to an overrun density of between 0.4 to 0.8 gm/cc.
38. The process of claim 2 wherein the frozen foam is vacuum freeze-dried at a pressure of about 150 to 175 microns.
39. The process of claim 3 wherein the frozen foam is vacuum freeze-dried at a pressure of about 150 to 175 microns.
41. A coffee powder according to claim 40 wherein the extract before freeze drying contains about 25% to 60% by weight of soluble coffee solids.
42. A dry coffee powder having a density of about 0.2 to 0.3 gm/cc and comprising a freeze dried particulated foamed extract of roast and ground coffee, said extract containing before freeze drying up to about 60% by weight of soluble coffee solids.
43. A coffee powder according to claim 42 containing about 0.1% to 0.5% by weight of aromatic condensate obtained by stripping roast and ground coffee.
BALDWIN, Judge (concurring in part and dissenting in part).
I agree with Judge Miller's treatment of claims 17-20 and 29. Otherwise, I join the majority opinion.
MILLER, Judge (dissenting in part and concurring in part).
I dissent on claim 1. The error of the majority in affirming the rejection stems from a misstatement of the issue. It is not necessary when antedating a reference under 35 U.S.C. § 102(a) or (e) to establish a prior reduction to practice, constructive or actual, of all the subject matter falling within the claims. It is necessary only to establish a reduction to practice of sufficient subject matter to render the claimed invention obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art. In re Spiller, 500 F.2d 1170, 182 USPQ 614 (Cust. & Pat.App.1974). The
Although the rejection of claim 1 arises in the context of an attempt to initiate an interference, the rejection is clearly under 35 U.S.C. § 102(a) or (e) and not under Rule 204(c), 37 CFR 1.204(c). Even if the rejection were under that rule, the substance of the rule's requirement for evidence sufficient to establish a prima facie case for a judgment of priority against Pfluger 1966 would be satisfied by the prior constructive reduction to practice of embodiments within claim 1 in appellants' parent and foreign applications. Hunt v. Treppschuh, 523 F.2d 1386, 187 USPQ 426 (Cust. & Pat.App.1975); Fontijn v. Okamoto, 518 F.2d 610, 186 USPQ 97 (Cust. & Pat. App.1975).
The majority cites In re Gemassmer, 319 F.2d 539, 51 CCPA 726, 138 USPQ 229 (1963), to support its decision on claim 1. It suffices to note that Gemassmer was decided more than a decade before In re Spiller, Hunt v. Treppschuh, and Fontijn v. Okamoto, supra.
I concur in the decision on claim 4 since appellants' parent and foreign applications are silent regarding final product temperature and a secondary heating step and, therefore, fail even as a constructive reduction to practice of the invention of claim 4.
I concur also in the decision on claims 19 and 20, but I do not find it necessary to hold, as the majority implicitly does, that "about 0.6" gm/cc excludes 0.5 gm/cc disclosed in the reference as the upper limit of merely a preferred range. Moreover, it is obvious from the reference that the process would work at a higher density than 0.5, although inferior results might be expected. My concurrence rests on the requirement of claims 19 and 20 of a specific sequence of steps not suggested by the prior art, namely: providing a high density of about 0.6 to about 0.8 gm/cc, grinding to a fine particle size prior to freeze drying, freeze drying, and finally agglomerating the fine particles into larger particles. This achieves a "highly coloured product of regular particle size." There is no suggestion in the prior art of deliberately grinding to a fine size and then agglomerating to a larger size.
I dissent on claims 17, 18, and 29, because there is at least a prima facie relationship between product and foam densities. The board noted this by stating that "the freeze dried density of the coffee would be inherent in view of the same range of foam overrun density disclosed by Pfluger." Since the foam densities and other conditions disclosed by Pfluger for the process claimed are approximately the same, appellants should be required either to show that the reference does not achieve the same product densities or to establish criticality. Since they have not done so, I would affirm the rejection of claims 17, 18, and 29.