Federal Circuit: The Term Receiver (found once in the specification) Sufficiently Discloses the Claimed Receiver and Receiver Means

By Dennis Crouch

EnOcean v. Face Int’l. (Fed. Cir. 2014)

This interference appeal is focused on interpreting the “functional” claim term “receiver” and relates directly to recent Patently-O discussions on the topic of means-plus-function claim terms compared with bare non-MPF functional claim terms. See Crouch, Functional Claim Language in Issued Patents (2014). Here, the court finds, roughly, that a claim term with a smidgen of structure should be seen as a structural limitation rather than one governed by 35 U.S.C. §112¶6. The case is also relevant to the still pending en banc case of Lighting Ballast where the Federal Circuit is set to decide whether a “voltage source means” limitation should be considered a means-plus-function limitation.

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Inter Partes Reviews have quickly taken-on the procedural appearance and nature of their PTO-trial predecessor interference proceedings. This interference case involves a competition between EnOcean and Face Int’l over a “self-powered light switch” that can be used to remotely trigger a relay using a piezoelectric element. Many think of an interference as a fight over who gets the patent. Some cases follow that model, but many others (such as this one) are really just one party trying to block the other’s patent. Interferences also have a tradition of being quite messy and I expect that tradition to continue in the Board’s new review and derivation proceedings.

Here, EnOcean’s patent application claims priority back to a May 2000 German application with later filed PCT and US national stage applications. Face’s priority only goes to 2001, but Face’s patent issued in 2006 while EnOcean has been battling with the PTO this whole time. After Face’s patent was issued, EnOcean amended its claims to match those of Face and requested an interference.

In the interference, EnOcean identified a set of prior art (other than its own application) that, in combination invalidated Face’s patent. Considering that evidence, the PTO Board found Face’s patent claims invalid as obvious. The Board also found that EnOcean’s amended claims were not sufficiently disclosed in the 2000 priority document and that EnOcean’s claims were therefore invalid as obvious (since they didn’t have an early priority date).

The case against priority was interesting. Many of EnOcean’s patent claims include the term “receiver” as follows:

  • Claim 37: “a signal receiver for receiving a first electromagnetic signal transmitted by said first signal transmitter;”
  • Claim 38: “a receiver for receiving a first radiofrequency signal transmitted by said first signal transmitter;”
  • Claim 43: “a receiver adapted to receiving a radiofrequency telegram transmitted by said radio frequency transmission stage;”
  • Claim 45: “a receiver adapted to receiving a radiofrequency telegram transmitted by said first radio frequency transmission stage;”

But, the German priority document’s only reference to a receiver came from a single sentence, as translated:

[A] typical scenario is that all the switches … upon actuation, emit one or a plurality of radio frequency telegrams which are received by a single receiver and the latter initiates the corresponding actions (lamp on/off, dimming of lamp, etc.).

(In German, the original application uses the term “empfänger.”)

In interpreting the “receiver” limitation, the Board found that it was purely functional and thus should be interpreted as a means-plus function element governed by 35 U.S.C. §112¶6. In other claims found in the patent, EnOcean had used the phrases “signal receiving means” and “means for receiving” and the PTO Board found those terms synonymous with “receiver.” Under the statute, a means-plus-function claim term must have corresponding structure described in the specification. Since, the original German application did not include any structural discussion of a receiver or how it might work, the Board held that the US patent could not properly claim priority to the German application.

In the Appeal, the Federal Circuit has vacated – agreeing with EnOcean that its claim term “receiver” is not so functional as to be a means-plus-function claim. The court began its analysis with the black-letter precedent that “means” is a magical word. When it is used, courts should presume that the applicant intended for the term to be interpreted under 112¶6, and that the opposite presumption should be made (not 112¶6) if the magic word “means” is absent. Here, because the receiver term is not accompanied by the magical word “means,” we begin with a presumption that it is not to be interpreted under 112¶6.

After finding its beginning presumption, the court then determined that one of skill in the art would see sufficient structure from the term.

Indeed, the record indicates that the term “receiver” conveys structure to one of skill in the art—the Board itself made a factual finding that that the “skilled worker would have been familiar with the design and principles of the types of components utilized in the claimed invention, including . . . receivers.”

We also come to this conclusion, in part, because EnOcean has provided extensive evidence demonstrating that the term “receiver” conveys known structure to the skilled person. . . . Further, we are not persuaded by Face’s arguments that the term “receiver” is simply too broad to recite sufficiently definite structure. We have stated previously that just because “the disputed term is not limited to a single structure does not disqualify it as a corresponding structure, as long as the class of structures is identifiable by a person of ordinary skill in the art. Linear Tech. Corp. v. Impala Linear Corp., 379 F.3d 1311, 1322 (Fed. Cir. 2004).

What the court didn’t do here was describe what a receiver is structurally (or how has that changed over the past three decades). As part of its analysis, the court rejected the Board’s conclusion that “that there is no distinction in meaning between ‘receiver’ and ‘signal receiving means,'” since “the receiver of the EnOcean claims is defined in the claims solely in terms of functional language.”

Connecting all the dots, the court then found that the one-liner original receiver disclosure provided sufficient structure to support both the means-plus-function claim elements (receiving means) and the non-MPF receiver.

The decision here is not overly surprising and follows a number of other Federal Circuit decisions where a smidgen of structural understanding was sufficient to remove a claim term from 112¶6 analysis. Notably amongst these is the Linear Tech decision cited above where the court found the claimed “circuit for monitoring a signal” recited sufficient structure to avoid 112¶6 analysis.

51 thoughts on “Federal Circuit: The Term Receiver (found once in the specification) Sufficiently Discloses the Claimed Receiver and Receiver Means

  1. Random Guy, “First off, in Wabash the court laid down that functional claiming was improper and then carved out an exception for old items, not vice versa. Second, there’s no rule that says that the office can’t reject in the alternative. Third, it would result in inconsistencies if the office allowed a case based on one novelty only to have the patentee argue a different one later in court (and that assumes there’s a perfect record which is rarely the case) whereas if the onus is on the applicant he would be estopped from arguing differently. Finally, using functional claiming for old items is not a guaranteed right – its entirely possible that the functional limitation could only be to old items and still be improper.”

    Random, Let me assure you that the Supreme Court clarified, twice, that “functional at the point of novelty” meant exactly that. Particularly see, Faulkner v. Gibbs.

    A rejection that any element in a combination claim indefinite because it is functional is without support in the case law. The rejection is Functional at the PON, and there must be some basis for it in the rejection.

    I have made the suggestion that if the applicant argues for novelty in the function of one element and nothing else, then the Office respond with a Functional at the PON rejection to force limitation of the claim element in some way.

    1. (sigh)

      Ned’s “Let me assure you that the Supreme Court clarified, twice, that “functional at the point of novelty” meant exactly that. Particularly see, Faulkner v. Gibbs.” still attempts to use a pre-1952 case to augment another pre-1952 case that was abrogated by Congress.

      Pure legal error.

      1. Ned’s comment clearly reveals confusion on his part on novelty and his wanting to disband with the claim as a whole aspect and the Canard of (mis)using the phrase Point of Novelty as an end-run attack geared (philosophically) on a particular field of art.

      2. Why on Earth would ANYONE ever “argue[] for novelty in the function of one element and nothing else“…?

        Applicants routinely make arguments that indicate beyond any doubt what element they are relying on for patentability. Whether they sprinkle in some baloney about “claims as a hole” doesn’t change a thing.

        1. Nice dissembling Malcolm – move the goalposts back as I did not ask whether arguments made merely ‘indicate,’ but instead asked if anyone made arguments specific to the point under discussion.

          1. If there are 3 limitations in a claim and the examiner cites art for all three, and applicant only responds to one limitation, then the applicant, at least with respect to that argument, is claiming an exact point of novelty in his one argued limitation, as a reviewing body will not inquire into the 2 un-argued limitations. The only conclusion a reviewing body could come to is that the record shows only one point of novelty.

            As to why anyone would do it, well if your other two limitations are a processor and a memory, I doubt the spec would support an argument that states that either of those limitations are novel. In pretty much every software application there’s a statement that the processors and memories could be any known in the art, and an argument that those are novel would raise 112 issues.

            1. Thanks Random for the silly view of Point of Novelty.

              You do realize of course that you have no clue as to what you are talking about, in relation to the actual term “Point of Novelty,” right?

    2. “Random, Let me assure you that the Supreme Court clarified, twice, that “functional at the point of novelty” meant exactly that. Particularly see, Faulkner v. Gibbs.”

      Ah I see, you misunderstand Faulkner. The holding in Faulkner by the lower court was that the reason it was patentable is because it was a non-obvious combination (see Faulkner, 170 F. 2d 34). In other words, there was no finding of novelty at all, all the elements were old, which is why there was no “exact point of novelty.” There was no novelty! That’s the correct ruling obviously, as you can use functional language to describe old things, then combine them in non-obvious ways to have a patent. What you cannot do is simultaneously argue that a particular limitation is not taught by the prior art (i.e. argue it is novel) and place that limitation in a non-means-plus functional form, regardless of how many limitations you do this for in a claim. You seem to misconstrue Faulkner as saying that if you have 2 novel limitations, then the rule is broken (as there is no “exact point”). That is incorrect. Faulkner simply does not support your argument as it is based upon a finding of a non-obvious combination of non-novel items. What’s your other case?

      Since KSR, and given the nature of computer software, the combination (assuming all the elements are old) is clearly obvious in software cases (as opposed to say, chemical ones). The exception you’re talking about simply no longer exists as a practical matter in the cases we’re discussing. Moreover, it’s pretty clear from the application they intend for something to be novel, as they aren’t touting the way they’re combined at all. Well if the processor isn’t novel and the memory isn’t novel, what do you think is the novel limitation?

      “A rejection that any element in a combination claim indefinite because it is functional is without support in the case law.”

      You seem to be confusing issues. If it is in 112, 6th, it is indefinite. If it is outside of 6th it lacks written description. And it’s been done as recently as Lizardtech. If you want to talk about 112, 6th they found the means limitation in Aristocrat indefinite despite it being one of many limitations. It’s the reverse in my mind – other than Hyatt and Morse I cannot think of a single applicant that has attempted to claim only a single limitation in functional terms (though I’m sure they exist).

      “I have made the suggestion that if the applicant argues for novelty in the function of one element and nothing else, then the Office respond with a Functional at the PON rejection to force limitation of the claim element in some way.”

      Barring your mistaken “and nothing else” – I suppose the examiner could do that, but the only thing that is going to do is annoy the applicant that the examiner withheld the rejection despite a stated office goal to be compact prosecution. That just seems pointless. It’s a lot easier to just make both rejections and then withdraw it if he doesn’t argue novelty and instead argues a non-obvious combination (i.e. lacks motivation to combine). You can infer that the applicant intended it to be novel because he doesn’t spend time discussing the combination, as one would with a non-obviousness patent, and if there is novelty it’s going to reside in the function.

      1. Random, Faulkner was about the novelty being in the combination. There was no precise point of novelty.

        To the same effect where the parts of a machine were described by means of their cooperation: Continental Paper Bag, distinguished in Halliburton with this language:

        “It is urged that our conclusion is in conflict with the decision of Continental Paper Bag Co. v. Eastern Paper Bag Co., 210 U.S. 405. In that case, however, the claims structurally described the physical and operating relationship of all the crucial parts of the novel combination.[8] 14*14 The Court there decided only that there had been an infringement of this adequately described invention. That case is not authority for sustaining the claims before us which fail adequately to describe the alleged invention.”

        Thus, PON does not include combinations of old elements, combinations where the novelty is in the cooperation of more than one element; and functionally described old elements.

        This we know. What we do not know is how all of this will apply in the context of computers.

        For 60 years the law has not developed normally due to 112, p.6 being enacted coupled with the statements by many that Halliburton was overruled. People still think that. Just listen to anon.

  2. Dennis, the case could better be understood from the point of view the claim elements (receiver or means for receiving) were all claiming old and well known structure. Consistent with the cited 1881 Supreme Court case, you failed to mention, one does not need to disclose details of well known structure.

    The case would have been decided differently, trust me, if the structure being claimed were the novel structure. Thus, one would not know from the term “receiver” itself what structure was being claimed from the term itself. The only way to determine that structure would be from the specification itself. Thus, one would either have an indefinite claim, or a claim that invoked 112(f).

    This case also illustrates what is wrong with the PTO current administration of 112(f) since Miyazaki. They make no distinction about whether the claim element under consideration is old or new. They say they follow Halliburton, but Halliburton is not good authority for applying the holding of that case to old elements.

    1. They say they follow Halliburton, but Halliburton is not good authority for applying the holding of that case to old elements.

      Applicants are always eager to overcome technical rejections by admitting that a limitation is squarely within the prior art.

        1. “may I suggest the burden is on the PTO to first demonstrate that the particular limitation is at the PON?”

          Why? Who is in a better position to claim what they believe the invention’s PON is? By filing for a patent the applicant is arguing that he has something novel and non-obvious. The Examiner is going to return with a 102/103 rejection and the applicant is going to rebut the rejection on at least one limitation*, which is an argument that novelty exists on that limitation.

          * Unless they argue motivation to combine only.

          1. The invention’s Point of Novelty is the claim itself, taken as a whole.

            That is the legal requirement to be met. There is no such thing as a requirement to have any other sense of a ‘point of novelty.’

            1. Anon, “The invention’s Point of Novelty is the claim itself, taken as a whole.”

              So you receive a rejection that a claim element is indefinite because it is functional at the point of novelty and you argue that there is no point of novelty in the claim?

              Or is it that you argue that Halliburton is not good law?

            2. I have never received or seen an “indefiniteness at the point of novelty” rejection.

              Indefiniteness should be determined by the claim as a whole IMO.

            3. Indefiniteness should be determined by the claim as a whole IMO.

              The phrase “claim as a whole” increasingly seems to be the answer to everything for some people.

            4. “Indefiniteness should be determined by the claim as a whole IMO.”

              Hahaha yeah. Let them be vague on the important part, so long as what is well-known is rock solid. Is this anon in a fish’s clothing?

              “The phrase “claim as a whole” increasingly seems to be the answer to everything for some people.”

              The irony is that would definitely fail in the minor improvements of computer software.

              “The invention’s Point of Novelty is the claim itself, taken as a whole.”

              hahaha. “But the vice of a functional claim exists not only when a claim is ‘wholly’ functional, if that is ever true, but also when the inventor is painstaking when he recites what has already been seen, and then uses conveniently functional language at the exact point of novelty” – Wabash. The vice of a functional claim occurs not only when the claim is wholly functional, but also when the claim, taken as a whole, uses functional language. Functional claiming is out altogether! Is this MM in anon’s clothing?

              Anon is either the best troll or the worst lawyer I have ever seen.

            5. Random trolls with “Anon is either the best troll or the worst lawyer I have ever seen.

              From the guy who has gotten the law wrong on what it means for a case to be abrogated, your comment is quite meaningless.

              And if you are imputing something to me with “Functional claiming is out altogether! ” you need to be a whole lot clearer.

              You do realize that merely using the words “taken as a whole” and then dissecting with ‘uses functional language within the claim’ really means that you are not taking the claim as a whole, right?

            6. Anon is either the best troll or the worst lawyer I have ever seen.

              They’re not mutually exclusive.

              Were you around when anon was suggesting that you could use your mailroom staff to screen registered letters addressed to you so they could throw away any letters that might reference prior art relevant to a case you were prosecuting? That’s the sort of “legal advice” you’ll get from anon. Oh yes, and he’ll also tell you that you can ignore Prometheus … because Diehr! He’s full of bizarre stuff like that.

              Guys like anon and his guru Gene Quinn live in an alternate universe where it’s all about them. They make the world go around with their functionally claimed softie woftie junk and if you dare to question their script they’ll just call you and idi0t. If you keep coming at them, then they’ll start hyperventilating. Eventually they pop a nut and all that’s left is something a lot like anon: a shriveled, shrieking, crystallized turd of patent luvvin madness.

            7. LOL – more ‘pretty’ AOOTWMD with “ If you keep coming at them, then they’ll start hyperventilating.

              The best hyperventilating was that 30,000 plus words of mewling QQ post-Myriad, especially as Malcolm proclaimed throughout that he was not really that interested.

              Malcolm, your hypocrisy is showing again. Blindingly so.

          2. Random Guy, “Who is in a better position to claim what they believe the invention’s PON is? By filing for a patent the applicant is arguing that he has something novel and non-obvious.”

            But we’re not talking about an obviousness rejection. We are talking about a rejection based upon indefiniteness where specifically the claim is rejected for indefiniteness based upon Halliburton. The proper and only rejection is that the claim is functional at the point of novelty and therefore it is indefinite. If the rejection is not that, the proper rebuttal is not arguing that the claim element in question is old, the proper rebuttal is that the patent office is not applying the correct legal standard.

            1. Well I don’t think your statement that indefiniteness is the only means for rejection is correct but that is besides the point.

              First off, in Wabash the court laid down that functional claiming was improper and then carved out an exception for old items, not vice versa. Second, there’s no rule that says that the office can’t reject in the alternative. Third, it would result in inconsistencies if the office allowed a case based on one novelty only to have the patentee argue a different one later in court (and that assumes there’s a perfect record which is rarely the case) whereas if the onus is on the applicant he would be estopped from arguing differently. Finally, using functional claiming for old items is not a guaranteed right – its entirely possible that the functional limitation could only be to old items and still be improper.

              But even as a practical matter it makes no sense, the office can’t prove novelty in a limitation any more than any patentee can, it can only fail to show non-novelty. Conversely the office routinely makes obviousness rejections, and an argument against the obviousness rejection would be an argument that the limitation is not within the prior art (again, unless motivation to combine is argued), in which case applicant is now estopped from arguing that it is old.

              The rule ought to be that if the claim is to a function, the office and applicant need to agree it is within the prior art or the 112 rejection should be made, because you can’t allow the applicant to argue that a limitation is new to beat 102 yet old to beat the functionality prohibition. The applicant’s position is inherently self-conflicting, and it raises a presumption on both issues, requiring evidence by the applicant to overcome.

            2. Random muses “The rule ought to be that if the claim is to a function, the office and applicant need to agree it is within the prior art or the 112 rejection should be made, because you can’t allow the applicant to argue that a limitation is new to beat 102 yet old to beat the functionality prohibition. The applicant’s position is inherently self-conflicting, and it raises a presumption on both issues, requiring evidence by the applicant to overcome.

              Random, you are not an attorney, are you?

            3. Random, you are not an attorney, are you?

              There you are: right out of the patent teabagger script. Next Random will be accused of “not understanding computers.” Wait for it …

        2. CLAIM AS A WHOLE

          — 2141.02 I. The Claimed Invention as a Whole Must be Considered

          — Section 101 — “claims must be considered as a whole” Diehr, 450 U.S. at 188

          — Doctrine of Equivalents — All elements in claim are relevant — Warner-Jenkinson, 520 U.S. at 40

          — Prometheus — Claim as a whole

          — Infringement — see Markman, 517 U.S. at 374

          1. Claims as a whole just means all the limitations should be considered, not that they be given equal weight nor that the statutory requirements aren’t applied limitation by limitation sometimes.

            In every invention 90% of the stuff is enabled. Nobody ever builds something completely new. You can’t get around the enablement requirement by continually adding things that are well-known. Same with description, same with indefiniteness.

          2. Random errs with “Claims as a whole just means” Just wrong.

            Notice how the troll doesn’t tell us what it “really” means and how the troll knows that everyone else is wrong and only the troll is right.

            That’s how the patent teabaggers work. I’ll have to add “ABROMOGATION” to the list of catchy phrases that this particular blogtroll likes to use to “devastate” his many enemies.

    2. Thanks Ned. I think the Webster Loom case you mention is important. Here is the quote from the decision:

      Since the inventors did not invent the receiver, and the Board found that the structure was well known as of the filing date, the inventors were “not obliged . . . to describe . . . the particular appendage to which the improvement refers, nor its mode of connection with the principal machine.” Webster Loom Co. v. Higgens, 105 U.S. 580, 586 (1881).

      The problem with this old precedent is that – at least apocryphally – applicants used to identify the “improvement” provided by the invention. The applicant here took the more typical approach of providing no background information, no discussion of prior failures, and no information regarding the particular improvement over the art. Interestingly, some of this information was provided in the original German application, but was then apparently removed by the US attorney who filed the case. It seems a bit disingenuous to now allow the applicant to rely upon the fact that particular claim elements are not core inventive concepts after the applicant has previously taken pains to intentionally obfuscate information about which elements are the core inventive concepts.

      1. Well, Dennis, you raise a great point. If the spec does not indicate the claimed structure is old and well known, perhaps the applicant should be estopped from making that argument. One can harken back to Evan v. Eaton for the requirement that a specification distinguish old from new in as a part of the WDR. If the spec consists only of embodiments as in Evans v. Eaton, and no distinction of old from new, the spec. arguably enables the invention but does not describe what the invention is. Not only does this violate Evans v. Eaton that never has been overturned, it violates Ariad that requires the specification to describe what the invention is.

        In this case, the US spec did not indicate that a receiver was well known structure but the German text did. Readers of the US patent who do not read German will not be informed that the receiver of the specification is intended to refer to a well known receiver. Would it be new matter to add that text into the spec after filing? If yes, then there is something radically wrong with adding it back in by expert testimony. Regardless, the implicit text should be ignored until the applicant does add it back in from the German priority document where the examiner could consider the new matter issues raised by such an amendment.

        This case is now beginning to look like the missing enablement from the specification in the Nautilus case that was added by expert testimony in the reexamination.

        1. Ned, a slight issue with “If the spec does not indicate the claimed structure is old and well known, perhaps the applicant should be estopped from making that argument.

          Your view would decimate the rationale for not including the item in the first place. You would force applicants to insert all known items exactly against the reason why such are deemed not necessary to include – in order to preserve the applicant’s rights.

          Instead of “taking pains to obfuscate” (and I could pull a Malcolm and ask for proof of such malicious intent…) perhaps a recent post on that ‘other blog’ is more to the point: unintended consequences (of KSR) and the plain fact that an application under US law simply requires less than an application under German law and that the attorney prosecuting the US application was merely ‘rightsizing’ the record.

          See link to ipwatchdog.com

          (First the co-mingling of Canada and the US and now the co-mingling of Germany and the US…?)

          As to Evan vs. Eaton and any purported requirement to distinguish old from new, an explicit and detailed list of what is old has not been ‘the law’ for a very long time, if ever (regardless of you saying that it is controlling) – stemming from at least the equal standing of the requirement that an applicant only need to present what he views as his invention – without regard to the prior art (Ariad is easily met without any references to prior art). In case you have not noticed Ned, the section of applications called “Prior Art” is not a required section and is largely missing in its entirety today. You are trying to ‘re-instill’ a line of authority that no longer is there.

          1. Anon, you have a means plus function clause that refers to a receiver where the receiver is not described in detail and where your use of that term does not clearly indicate on its face that you are referring to well known structure. Can you add to the specification without invoking new matter a statement that the receiver to which you refer is a well-known structure that you identify by reference to a publication?

          2. anon: I could pull a Malcolm and ask for proof of such malicious intent…)

            What the fk are you rambling about now, nutcase?

            Your view would decimate the rationale for not including the item in the first place.

            Except the “item” (“receiver”) is included in the claim.

            an explicit and detailed list of what is old has not been ‘the law’ for a very long time,

            I’m quite sure that Ned acknowledged this.

            an applicant only need to present what he views as his invention – without regard to the prior art

            Ned was suggesting that perhaps it would be useful to require applications to present some description of the relationship of their invention to the prior art.

            You are trying to ‘re-instill’ a line of authority that no longer is there.

            Uh … so what?

            a recent post on that ‘other blog’ is more to the point: unintended consequences (of KSR)

            Right. KSR really put the damper on patenting in the US. You can tell just be looking at the exponentially shrinking filing and grant rates ….

      2. Dennis –

        Translators charge by the word. No one took pains to to intentionally obfuscate information. Someone took a couple minutes to line through all but the essential text to save translation costs.

        Receivers are ubiquitous. I dare say you have one in your pocket.

        If the claim recited a nail, would you argue that the specification should have described how to make the nail too?

        If the claim recited a nail means, perhaps due to a translation issue or because the original application was drafted for a different jurisdiction, would you argue that it must invoke 112, 6 and since the spec doesn’t explain the structure of a nail means the claim is rejected for reasons of lack of written description? cummon man…gimme a break.

        1. Les, the question is whether “receiver” was a well-known structure in the particular art because receivers can be anything that receives without specifying the context. If it is not clear that receiver is a well-known structure, but something else is and one intended the term receiver to refer to it, how does one fix the problem after the specification is filed if the question of whether receiver was a well-known structure or not became an issue?

          1. Ned –
            I think its clear that a receiver in this case is any kind of electrical/electronic receiver that one might choose to use including a radio receiver an optical remote control type receiver and even an information over power line receiver. One of ordinary skill in the art would have understood that from the context of the application.

            If one intended it to be more specific, I’m sure one would have said so.

            Look at it this way. The lack of specificity should have made if very simple for the examiner to have found prior art, if such existed.

            1. The lack of specificity should have made if very simple for the examiner to have found prior art, if such existed.

              Now that the incredible breadth of the term is known, it should be straightforward to tank the claim.

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