By Ronald Slusky
||Ronald Slusky mentored dozens of attorneys in "old school" invention analysis and claiming principles over a 31-year career at Bell Laboratories. He is now in private practice in New York City. This article is adapted from his book published by the American Bar Association, "Invention Analysis and Claiming: A Patent Lawyer's Guide." Ron also offers a CLE-accredited seminar based on his book. Further information can be found at www.sluskyseminars.com Ron can be reached at 212-246-4546 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last month's column discussed the use of the problem/solution paradigm to identify appropriate limitations when amending claims in view of cited prior art. Although not presented as such, that column focused on the scenario in which the cited prior art is invention-relevant, meaning prior art that not only meets the claim language but also teaches what we had thought to be the inventor's broad inventive concept.
This month we look at the scenario in which the cited prior art is invention-irrelevant. This is prior art that serendipitously meets the claim language but does not teach or embody the inventor's contribution to the art.
The difference is significant because the way we should amend depends on whether cited prior art is invention-relevant or invention-irrelevant—that is whether it does or does not disclose the inventive concept.
Suppose, for example, we have filed a patent application directed to the idea of mounting a building or other large structure on springs to dampen earthquake vibrations and thereby protect the structure from damage or collapse (FIG. 1), with the following as claim 1:
1. Apparatus comprising
a structure, and
one or more springs supporting the structure.
If the examiner ...