BPAI interprets closed transition phrase for method claims

Ex parte Hideaki Ueda (BPAI ) (NOT PRECEDENTIAL)

In a case involving a process for preparing an organic electroluminescent element, the patent examiner issued a rejection for indefiniteness under 35 USC 112, second paragraph.  The examiner indicated that the claimed language of "consisting essentially of" excluded any further steps which materially affect the claimed process. Because the dependent claims included further limitations, the examiner rejected those claims as logically excluded by the "consisting" language.

On appeal at the BPAI, the Board reversed the examiner, finding that the phrase "consisting essentially of" does not limit a claim only to steps specifically recited in the claim — but is only would exclude ingredients which would materially affect basic and novel characteristics.

In this case, the limitations described in the dependent claims were disclosed in the specification.  As such, those elements cannot contradict the basic characteristics of the invention.