Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Method for conducting electronic meeting found obvious

In Ex parte BURCKART , the Board affirmed a determination of obviousness as to a claim to a method for conducting electronic meetings. A relevant claim:

A method of conducting electronic meetings, comprising the steps of:

defining one or more groups of participants in an electronic meeting;

assigning a relative priority for each group, the relative priority for each group being unique to said group;
generating a meeting event for the electronic meeting; and

triggering logic to provide the meeting event to the groups in a sequence ordered by the relative priority for each group.

The Board noted:

Because priority is logically “relative” by definition, and Hinchliffe’s paragraph [0014] teaches prioritizing different groups, we agree with the Examiner (Ans. 4 and 15-17) that Hinchliffe’s paragraph [0014] teaches or suggests “assigning a relative priority for each group” of participants, where the priority is unique to each group, as recited in representative claim 1.

BRI arose:

“During examination, ‘claims . . . are to be given their broadest reasonable interpretation consistent with the specification, and . . . claim language should be read in light of the specification as it would be interpreted by one of ordinary skill in the art.’” In re Am. Acad. of Sci. Tech Ctr., 367 F.3d 1359, 1364 (Fed. Cir. 2004)(quoting In re Bond, 910 F.2d 831, 833 (Fed. Cir. 1990)); see also In re Morris, 127 F.3d 1048, 1053-54 (Fed. Cir. 1997).

Under the broadest reasonable interpretation of representative claim 4, in light of the Specification, the claimed “selecting at random a first group of participants from the plurality of participants” that has “a pre-configured maximum number of participants” encompasses the condition where both the “first group of participants” and the “pre-configured maximum number of participants” is equal to all of the participants, and the electronic meeting is conducted with all of the participants in the first group. Am. Acad. of Sci. Tech Ctr., 367 F.3d at 1364.


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