Q) Mirror (MPEP 2100, Inherent Function)

by patentbar on May 3, 2007 · 44 comments

in Exam Questions

Test takers report a question involving whether the reflective qualities of a mirror should be included in the specification. You were to choose from a list of choices that comported with USPTO practice and procedure. Among the answers (from memory):

(A) Because the definition of mirror automatically includes its reflective qualities, there is no need to amend the specification to include the reflective qualities

(E) The mirror in one part of the specification is “parallel,” and the mirror in another part is “perpendicular.” The specification is conflicting and one who has knowledge in the art would not be able to tell the difference, so amend the specification.

The answer is (A) based on 2163.07(a) Inherent Function, Theory, or Advantage. Reflection is an inherent function of a mirror, so there is no need to mention it in the description. Whether it is positioned parallel or perpendicular has nothing to do with its reflective qualities, and would likely be obvious. “Special” reflective qualities known to one skilled in the art (if included – this is hypothetical) would be different and should be included for enablement purposes.

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 patentbarNo Gravatar December 15, 2007 at 12:41 am

A test taker noted: I picked (E) which talked about perpendicular and parallel mirrors and 112 indefinite, as opposed to (A) and (B) which talked about inherent qualities and the definition of “mirror”.

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2 whatNo Gravatar July 23, 2008 at 10:29 am

The folks over at patentbarquestions.com state “However, based on review of March, 2008 exam at PTO, this question deals with the enablement requirement and the correct answer is E (from the recollection of the above choices) because the specification is conflicting and PHOSITA would be unable to determine which description is correct.”

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3 patentbarNo Gravatar August 18, 2008 at 3:00 pm

From the forum: “I also got the mirror question(The answer is reject b/c “parallel” wording”

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4 PatentbarNo Gravatar January 27, 2009 at 10:43 pm

There are evidently 2 variants of the “Mirror” question. I got the “parallel/perpendicular/enablement” wording variant on 1/27/08. It is of the “which is not correct” type – just pick the answer that involves the mirror and no enablement. The other answers have nothing to do with a mirror.

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5 J_ChemNo Gravatar March 5, 2009 at 10:19 pm

So, there are two versions (both of which contain “parallel” and “perpendicular” mirrors). One in which enablement is lacking and one that deals with inherent properties of a mirror (ie reflection), and how this should not be placed in the specification.

I guess I’m wondering what differentiates the two variants. What is the red herring that identifies it as the enablement question? Is it the “special reflective properties” issue? Thanks very much.

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6 why meNo Gravatar March 21, 2009 at 7:25 am

I picked wrong answer (e) too. It was on March 20, 2009 exam.

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7 SamNo Gravatar March 21, 2009 at 7:06 pm

why me

How do you know you missed it? Did it ask you about inherency or about enablement? It seems like the answer hinges on the call of the question.

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8 matt30No Gravatar May 10, 2009 at 11:38 am

I got a version of this question yesterday on my exam. The fact pattern asked, “in reply to which one of the actions by the applicant, the examiner can issue a rejection by 112 first paragraph”

Both selections A and E where there but they where clearly not the right choice for my version since the fact pattern asks a rejection, the selection must talk about claims. Both A and E above talk about amending spec. and no talk on claims. So the answer I choice had to to something with the claims and I guess it was listed as B, I think it was mentioning about a claim including “mirror” as a word replace the mirror with “light reflecting material” in an amendment.

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9 DoubleONo Gravatar June 8, 2009 at 10:34 am

The reasoning above may not be sound in all circumstances – consider the following from the MPEP:

2163.06 I. Treatment of New Matter
… “In an instance where the claims have not been amended, per se, but the *specification has been amended* to add new matter, a *rejection* of the claims under 112(1) should be made whenever any of the claim limitations are affected by the added material.” …

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10 matt30No Gravatar May 10, 2009 at 11:40 am

actually editing my message above, the fact patter was more specific. it asked about rejection by 112 first paragraph written spec./disclosure.

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11 danNo Gravatar June 1, 2009 at 12:02 pm

matt30

just my 2 cents:
112 first paragraph is about specification and the written description that must be concise… I would say that E above will give enough reason to an examiner to reject it under 112 1st…

thx…

PS I am taking the test in 8 days…

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12 SamNo Gravatar June 1, 2009 at 12:18 pm

thnx Dan. Good luck

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13 scruffNo Gravatar July 22, 2009 at 2:34 pm

If the question asks about 112 rejection, are we sure that it is referring to the first paragraph and not the others? In other words, is this an enablement issue or an indefiniteness of claims issue? In an earlier post, somebody indicated that one of the answer choices was “replacing ‘mirror’ by the dictionary definition”. This could render the claim indefinite under the second paragraph of 112 (MPEP 706.03 (d)) if the disclosure in the spec doesn’t agree with the claims.

In regards to answer E above, I would think that it really depends on what the claims say. A specification can disclose multiple configurations (just as it can disclose multiple “effective amounts of…”), as long as the claims are supported by the specification and don’t conflict with it. However, I suppose that a spec with conflicting information does not properly enable….so I might be wrong.

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14 Art WilliamsNo Gravatar August 31, 2009 at 11:54 am

I had a mirror question on 8/11/09. I think it was probably the same question confronted by Scruff. My recollection is that the term mirror in the original disclosure was replaced by reflective surface, and that the distinction between diffuse and nondiffuse reflection was made explicitly in the fact pattern. So, I interpreted the replacement as new matter, as nondiffuse reflectors (like mirrors) are a subset of reflectors (that include snow and stainless steel). One of the answers offered seemed to me to be consistent with this interpretation, but I do not know if the PTO regards that choice as correct.

Art Williams

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15 GregNo Gravatar September 10, 2009 at 9:38 am

I had the mirror question on my test of 9/8/09, and the question call asked about a rejection under 112 but I don’t recall if it mentioned the paragraph. The first four answers dealt with swapping definitions around, but all had some variant of “a PHOSITA would readily understand the definition” or “fully supported in the disclosure”. The last answer had the parallel vs. perpendicular issue, and furthermore said a PHOSITA would *NOT* understand which one was intended from the disclosure. To me that was a dead giveaway that the last answer would lead to a rejection. So make sure you read the fairly lengthy answers carefully to look for clues on this one.

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16 samboNo Gravatar September 12, 2009 at 10:24 am

Got this question Yesterday, and the answer is fairly obvious so don’t sweat it. It asks which situatuion would a USC 112 rejection be made. I chose the answer which didnt enable POSITA

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17 jayNo Gravatar October 1, 2009 at 10:34 am

This question was on my exam yesterday. The question asked in which answer would there be a 112, first paragraph rejection.

The answers were similar to those listed by others (a) the reflective qualities of a mirror are inherent; (b) amend the spec to include a dictionary def of a mirror; (c) and (d) can’t remember; (e) parallel/perpendicular.

However, the answers all noted ways to amend the claim and/or spec to overcome the rejection. For (e) it specifically noted to amend the spec for the perpendicular language to read parallel and state that this was an oversight and the spec is now correct.

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18 Art WilliamsNo Gravatar October 1, 2009 at 11:59 am

I continue to suspect that the restriction of the question to the first paragraph of 112 implies that the question is probing the distinction between the description (1st paragraph) and enablement (2nd paragaph) requirements. Consider the following portion of 2161.01.

(While acknowledging that some of its cases concerning the written description requirement and the enablement requirement are confusing, the Federal Circuit reaffirmed that under 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, the written description requirement is separate and distinct from the enablement requirement and gave an example thereof.). An invention may be described without the disclosure being enabling (e.g., a chemical compound for which there is no disclosed or apparent method of making), and a disclosure could be enabling without describing the invention (e.g., a specification describing a method of making and using a paint composition made of functionally defined ingredients within broad ranges would be enabling for formulations falling within the description but would not describe any specific formulation).

There is no mention of PHOSITA is the MPEP discussion of the description requirement.

At least in the MPEP, inherency is discussed elsewhere (2112).

In the version of this question that I encountered, I thought the distinction in scope between mirror and reflecting surface was the target of the question.

Art Williams

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19 sethzNo Gravatar January 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Both written description and enablement are 112 1st paragraph requirements.

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20 GoJacketsNo Gravatar November 15, 2009 at 12:27 pm

To anyone who has taken the test and had this one:

Did the call of the question have a blurb about the specs, including this discrepency about the mirror being perp/par and THEN have a set of claims that were indefinite as to the mirror in light of the poorly-written specs? Everyone seems to be saying the question asks whether a rejection would be improper, so I’m wondering a rejection of what? Seems like you’d have to have a claim there to know if a rejection is appropriate (e.g., April 02 pm #44 “effective amount” used in claims where specs had two different explanations of what’s an “effective amount”)

If, on the other hand, the question just says “this is what the specs say – do they need to be fixed?” and it doesn’t involve claims, then maybe that’s the variant in which (a) is right b/c then you’re just being asked if a “mirror” inherently has reflective properties, in the same way, e.g., a “screw” has threads

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21 Emily M.No Gravatar February 13, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Got this today, and picked E as the only one that wasn’t enabling.

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22 IrishNo Gravatar June 9, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Had this on 6/7. The answer was pretty obvious. The facts set out how one part of the spec talks about the mirror being parallel, another talking about the mirror being perpendicular. The correct answer said that the claim wasn’t enabling since it didn’t mention which configuration it was referring to or something like that.

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23 JM70No Gravatar December 9, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Got this today, Dec 9, 2010. I picked E (the longest choice). The question is after amendment, can the examiner issue a 112 1st paragraph rejection? A-D are all choice to either amend the definition of “mirror” or “surface that reflects light” To me they all sound very similar to each other (inherent property). Answer E is amending “perpendicular” to “parallel”, which admits that PHOSITA is confused and can not make out wether mirror should be one way or the other. From what I understand, if a PHOSITA is confused, then it should be rejected under 112, 1st paragraph

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24 Boating BobNo Gravatar December 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Had this 12/30/10. The question had 5 choices, which would be a proper rejection under 112. (a) replacing “mirror” with “reflective surface” when it is not defined in spec., but would be known to PHOSITA. (b) replacing “mirror” with dictionary definition “…” and no other definition was given in spec for mirror and it was obvious dictionary definition was meant. (c) replacing “mirror” with light reflecting surface and the examiner properly takes notice of this well known fact (d) “mirror” is replaced in the claim with “reflective surface” when a mirror is defined as a reflective surface in the spec. (e) the spec claims a mirror as being parallel in one place and claims a mirror being perpendicular in another place and the claim describes mirror and PHOSITA would not know from the disclosure which property of the mirror was claimed.

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25 BigBadVoodoDaddyNo Gravatar July 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm

The answer seems to be e.
But my two cents on the other choices are that if one were to replace the word mirror (which has glass, a reflective surface and a backing surface) with a light reflecting surface, which could be a highly polished piece of metal, a coating etc – that would infact be mirror like – hence new material in the description or indefinite too if used in the claim.

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26 JustinNo Gravatar December 31, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Boating Bob:

Did you pick answer “e”?

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27 Number_27No Gravatar January 5, 2011 at 8:15 am

Had this one yesterday and it is 112, par 1 issue.

The snwer is right out of the MPEP, no surprise. The applicante wanted to correct via amendment his erroenous use of paralell & perpendicular which was clearly an error in the spec. Because one skilled in the art would 1) recognize the error, but 2) not be able to detemrine which (paralell or perpendicular) was the right correction, the amendment could not save the flawed spec.

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28 AnneNo Gravatar January 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I had a questiosn asking which one of the answer choices were proper basis for the 112 1st parag. rejection. Answer choices include adding/amending dictionary meaning of mirrors in the spec. or claim (that would’ve been enabling the phosita at the time of fling) and spec. with positioning of the mirror being parallel in one part, and perpendicular in the other part making the disclosure conflicting & not enabling phosita.

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29 MirandaNo Gravatar April 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I agree with the answer, but just out of curiosity does anyone know where the parallel/perp example is in the MPEP?

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30 RodneyNo Gravatar January 25, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I got this mirror question today (1-25-2011). I went with Number_27’s post and said you couldn’t amend.

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31 VeNo Gravatar January 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Got this question and went with the (e) answer because it states the PHOSITA is confused.

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32 OxfordNo Gravatar February 7, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Got this question today. Answer E was obviously correct (Boating Bob does a good job of listing the answer choices). The call of the question asks in which case would an Examiner be able to properly make a 35 USC 112 rejection. My fact pattern made it clear that the mirror element was described in the specification as a component of a larger invention. In one place of the specification the mirror is described as parrallel in relation to other components, whereas later in the specification the mirror is described as being perpendicular to the other component.

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33 BrandonNo Gravatar February 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Also got this question on 2/7, picked parallel/perpendicular answer, and passed. Answer was pretty clear, as it was the only one that said something like “PHOSITA would not recognize”, and all other answers did not.

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34 epepNo Gravatar March 7, 2011 at 11:40 am

Yeah, I got Bob’s version too. The longest, the one I put, was (e) – it’s a pretty obvious, common-sense one once you read the question.

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35 InessaNo Gravatar March 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I got this questions on today’s exam. I put answer e for parallel/perp.

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36 FredsNo Gravatar May 30, 2011 at 3:28 am

112 P1 covers enablement, written description and best mode. I am not sure how E is tied with enablement based on you guys’ description of the fact pattern. Your reasonings more or less tie with the cannons of claim construction, which is not in the purview of 112.. .

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37 SolNo Gravatar April 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm

If appl amends pendicular to parralle, this is is new matter
and the new matter will indirectly affect claims
so the claims need to be rejected on written description basis, a 112 1st rejection

or the applicant argues that it is merely correct an error. OK, should it be an error, is a skilled artisan able to recognize the error and solution? It seems at least a skilled artisan would not know the solution even if he recognizes the error. so the error cannot be corrected and it is new matter, and this new matter affects claims so claims are rejected.

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38 FredsNo Gravatar May 30, 2011 at 3:32 am

112 P2 covers indefitness and the standard there is insolubly indefinite. I am not sure E provides such basis for rejection.

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39 DanielNo Gravatar August 3, 2011 at 10:52 am

Got this one 7/29/11 with the answers slightly different but the correct answer essentially the same.

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40 maggieNo Gravatar September 14, 2011 at 1:37 am

Q3) Mirror (“parallel/perpendicular/enablement lacking variant)
The mirror element was described in the specification as a component of a larger invention. In one place of the specification the mirror is described as parallel in relation to other components, whereas later in the specification the mirror is described as being perpendicular to the other component.
Q After amendment, which would Examiner be able to properly make a 35 USC 112 rejection?
(a) replacing “mirror” with “reflective surface” when it is not defined in spec., but would be known to PHOSITA.
(b) replacing “mirror” with dictionary definition “…” and no other definition was given in spec for mirror and it was obvious dictionary definition was meant.
(c) replacing “mirror” with light reflecting surface and the examiner properly takes notice of this well known fact
(d) “mirror” is replaced in the claim with “reflective surface” when a mirror is defined as a reflective surface in the spec.
Answer (e) amending “perpendicular” to “parallel”, which admits that PHOSITA is confused (the spec claims a mirror as being parallel in one place and claims a mirror being perpendicular in another place) and the claim describes mirror PHOSITA would not know from the disclosure which property of the mirror was claimed.

Agreed Answer (e)

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41 maggieNo Gravatar September 14, 2011 at 1:39 am

Deduced from previous postings could be incorrect.

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42 Tonya SaheliNo Gravatar November 21, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Ha anyone taken the patent bar in the past month?

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43 Tonya SaheliNo Gravatar November 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Has anyone taken the patent bar exam in the past month?

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44 En-tranceNo Gravatar June 1, 2015 at 5:09 pm

According to the fact pattern of maggie, I can’t seem to rationalize (E) being the correct answer. Here’s my take: the call of the question is which amendment of the claims would constitute new matter that would then warrant a rejection of the amended claim under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph. With the amendment as described in (E) to me suggests that the Applicant is trying to shift to a different embodiment (“perpendicular” to “parallel”, but both are supported by the specification). SO to me, (A) seems more likely the correct answer, because changing “mirror” to “a reflective surface” to me changes a species (mirror) to genus (a reflective surface). Since “a reflective surface” has not been described in the specification, it is irrelevant if it is known to PHOSITA and is new matter so the claim containing such an amendment should be rejected as such. Any thoughts?

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