MARKEY, Chief Judge.
Appeal from the decision of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) Board of Appeals (board) sustaining rejections of claims 1-7 under 35 U.S.C. § 102 or 35 U.S.C. § 103, and claims 3-7 under 35 U.S.C. § 112, of appellants' application serial No. 347,216, filed April 2, 1973, for "Catalyst for Hydrocarbon Conversion Processes and Process for Preparing Same."
The invention relates to zeolitic molecular sieve catalyst compositions useful in hydrocarbon conversion and to a process for producing them. Claim 1 is illustrative of the product claims:
Claim 3 is illustrative of the process claims:
Claim 2 is restricted to a zeolite of claim 1 with a Na
As recognized in the prior art, crystalline zeolitic aluminosilicates with high concentrations of sodium cations do not make good hydrocarbon conversion catalysts. For this reason sodium cations are replaced with non-metallic cations such as hydrogen or ammonium. The hydrogen or ammonium cations are removed by calcination, producing a decationized zeolite. Such decationized zeolites have poor hydrothermal stability, i. e., they lose their crystallinity upon reheating after contact with water.
The process of appealed claims 3-7 is a stabilization procedure for such low-sodium zeolites wherein a thermal treatment in the presence of steam is followed by a particular cool-down step. The zeolitic compositions of claims 1-2 represent the products of the claimed process.
The 102/103 Rejections The references relied upon were: Maher et al. (Maher) 3,293,192 Dec. 20, 1966 Hansford 3,354,077 Nov. 21, 1967 McDaniel et al. (McDaniel) 3,449,070 June 10, 1969 Kerr et al (Kerr I) 3,493,519 Feb. 3, 1970 Kerr (Kerr II) 3,513,108 May 19, 1970
All claims were rejected under 35 U.S.C. § 102 or 35 U.S.C. § 103 as unpatentable over Hansford. Claims 1-2 were additionally rejected in view of each of Maher, McDaniel, Kerr I, and Kerr II.
Hansford discloses a method for producing a hydrothermally stable Y-sieve zeolite composition by calcining an ammonium zeolite Y for 2 or more hours in an atmosphere containing water vapor at a temperature of from 700°F to 1200°F (338°C-649°C). The starting material is disclosed by Hansford as having a SiO
In sustaining the rejection, the board added its view of Hansford.
I. The Process Claims
The appellants urge that, because Hansford is silent on appellants' crucial cool-down step and on his apparatus, a direct comparison between the claimed process and that of Hansford is impossible. Appellants correctly state that indirect comparisons, based on established scientific principles, can validly be applied to distinguish a claimed chemical process or product from that disclosed in the prior art. In re Blondel, 499 F.2d 1311, 182 USPQ 294 (CCPA 1974). However, our analysis of the comparative data offered by appellants convinces us that the burden of rebutting the PTO's reasonable assertion of inherency under 35 U.S.C. § 102, or of prima facie obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103, has not been met.
Our reading of Hansford leads us to conclude, as did the board, that all process limitations of claim 3 are expressly disclosed by Hansford, except for the functionally expressed rate of cooling. Because any sample of Hansford's calcined zeolitic catalyst would necessarily be cooled to facilitate subsequent handling, the conclusion of the examiner that such cooling is encompassed by the terms of the appealed claims was reasonable.
The board did not specifically mention the absence of ammonia as a result of "removing at least a major proportion of any ammonia generated by the heated zeolite from contact with the zeolite," as recited in claim 3. Its affirmance of the examiner, however, carried with it a concurrence in the examiner's view that Hansford discloses a gaseous atmosphere in a "stream." In concluding that Hansford expressly disclosed all process limitations except the cooling rate, the board necessarily considered Hansford's disclosure of a gas "stream" as equivalent to a disclosure of the removal of generated ammonia from contact with the zeolite. Though appellants argued before the board and before us that Hansford is silent on the matter, they have not provided any effective argument nor submitted any evidence that a gas stream does not inherently remove generated ammonia.
This court, in In re Swinehart, 439 F.2d 210, 58 CCPA 1027, 169 USPQ 226 (1971), set forth the burden of proof required to overcome an inherency rejection:
This burden was involved in In re Ludtke, 441 F.2d 660, 58 CCPA 1159, 169 USPQ 563 (1971), and is applicable to product and process claims reasonably considered as possessing the allegedly inherent characteristics.
The proof required here relates to appellants' cool-down step. The only comparative data on the cool-down rate are found in examples 1(a) and 1(c) of appellants' specification. Those data merely establish that there may be cooling rates which are not the cooling rate functionally set forth in claim 3. Absent from the data is a comparison of X-ray diffraction patterns, the phenomenon employed in defining cooling rates. Thus the data found in the specification are insufficient to rebut the inherency rejection of the process claims.
In view of Hansford's silence on cool-down rate and on his apparatus, appellants need only have shown that the cool-down rate, for a typical laboratory-scale sample when employed in Hansford's process, would not yield a cooled zeolite with the X-ray diffraction pattern of claim 3. Appellants failed to do even that.
Appellants submitted an affidavit of Skeels,
We affirm the board's decision upholding the rejection of process claims 3-7 as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. § 102 or as obvious under 35 U.S.C. § 103, and do not reach the rejection of claims 3-7 under 35 U.S.C. § 112.
II. The Product Claims
Product claims 1-2 were rejected as unpatentable over each of Hansford, Maher, McDaniel, Kerr I, and Kerr II. We find it necessary to consider only Hansford.
Where, as here, the claimed and prior art products are identical or substantially identical, or are produced by identical or substantially identical processes, the PTO can require an applicant to prove that the prior art products do not necessarily or inherently possess the characteristics of his claimed product. See In re Ludtke, supra. Whether the rejection is based on "inherency" under 35 U.S.C. § 102, on "prima facie obviousness" under 35 U.S.C. § 103, jointly or alternatively,
In product claim 1 appellants have "fingerprinted" their crystalline zeolitic aluminosilicate by reciting six parameters, two directly compositional in nature, SiO
Though urging that the other parameters are the unique result of their claimed process, appellants have offered no comparison of those other parameters with the corresponding parameters of Hansford's product.
We affirm the decision of the board upholding the rejections of product claims 1-2 on Hansford and do not reach the rejections of claims 1-2 on Maker, McDaniel, Lerr I, of Kerr II.
The decision of the board is affirmed.