Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Drabe case turns on the meaning of "linear"

Within Ex parte Drabe , the meaning of "linear" is discussed:

The specification does not expressly define “linearly” or “linear,” so it is appropriate to consult a general dictionary definition of the word for guidance in determining the ordinary and customary meaning of the claim term as viewed by a person of ordinary skill in the art. Comaper Corp. v. Antec, Inc., 596 F.3d 1343, 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2010). “Linear” is well understood to mean “of, relating to, resembling, or having a graph that is a line and esp. a straight line . . . involving a single dimension.” MERRIAM- WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY (11th ed. 2005); see also MCGRAW- HILL DICTIONARY OF SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL TERMS, 1209 (6th ed. 2003) (“1. Of or relating to a line. 2. Having a single dimension.”). Based on this definition we would expect structure extending linearly along an axis to resemble a line oriented along the longitudinal axis, which here would mean, at a minimum, that the dimension along the axis should be larger than the dimensions transverse to that axis.

This is not the case with respect to the contact part 6, as is evident from figure 1. Accordingly, we disagree with the Examiner’s finding that DE ’819 discloses a spring portion that extends linearly along the longitudinal axis. Because the Examiner’s rejection of claims 10-15 is based on this finding, we do not sustain that rejection.


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