ANSWER: (A) is the most correct answer. MPEP § 2113, under the heading “Product-By-Process Claims Are Not Limited To The Manipulations Of The Recited Steps, Only The Structure Implied By The Steps,” states “‘even though product-by-process claims are limited by and defined by the process, determination of patentability is based on the product itself. The patentability of a product does not depend on its method of production. If the product in the product-by-process claim is the same as or obvious from a product of the prior art, the claim is unpatentable even though the prior product was made by a different process.’ In re Thorpe, 777 F.2d 695, 698, 227 USPQ 964, 966 (Fed. Cir. 1985).” The issue is whether the claimed mixture Y is the same as or obvious over the patented mixture Y. MPEP § 2113, under the heading “Once A Product Appearing To Be Substantially Identical Is Found And A 35 U.S.C. 102/103 Rejection Made, The Burden Shifts To The Applicant To Show An Unobvious Difference,” states “[o]nce the examiner provides a rationale tending to show that the claimed product appears to be the same or similar to that of the prior art, although produced by a different process, the burden shifts to applicant to come forward with evidence establishing an unobvious difference between the claimed product and the prior art product. In re Marosi, 710 F.2d 798, 802, 218 USPQ 289, 292 (Fed. Cir. 1983).” Evidence that the two processes produce different properties is germane to the issue of patentability of the product-by-process claim. Accordingly, a comparison of the results obtained by conducting the process recited in the claim versus the process used by patent A and which shows that the claimed product exhibits an unexpectedly lower melting point would be a persuasive demonstration that, although the products would appear to be substantially identical, in fact, they are patentably different. Ex parte Gray, 10 USPQ2d 1922 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1989). Therefore, the best reply to the outstanding rejection would be to argue that the claimed product has an unexpectedly lower melting point and to support that argument with evidence showing that the result of the patent A process is a mixture with higher melting point as compared to the claimed product. (B) is not the most correct answer. The patentability of a product-by-process claim is determined on the basis of product characteristics, not process steps. (C) is not the most correct answer. The declaration is conclusory, as opposed to being factual. Thus, the argument is not supported by facts. As stated in MPEP § 716.02(c), under the heading “Opinion Evidence,” “Although an affidavit or declaration which states only conclusions may have some probative value, such an affidavit or declaration may have little weight when considered in light of all the evidence of record in the application. In re Brandstadter, 484 F.2d 1395, 179 USPQ 286 (CCPA 1973).” Thus, the reply in (A) is the most correct answer vis-à-vis (C). (D) like answer (B), is not the most correct answer for the same reason discussed for (B). (E) is not the most correct answer. Like answer (C), this reply rightly focuses on product properties. But without the comparative factual evidence to support it, this reply is weaker than one described in answer (A).
Q) Beck – Mixture Y with melting point of 150F (10.03.11p/4.03.22a)
Question #22 from the April 2003 (AM) patent bar exam is reported by exam takers as in the current question database.
22. On January 2, 2001, a registered practitioner filed a patent application with the USPTO for inventor Beck. The application includes a specification and a single claim to the invention which reads as follows:
1. Mixture Y made by the process Q1.
In the specification, Mr. Beck discloses that mixture Y has a melting point of 150° F. On June 2, 2001, the practitioner received an Office action from the primary examiner rejecting the claim. The claim is rejected under 35 USC 102/103 as being clearly anticipated by or obvious over Patent A. The examiner states “Patent A teaches mixture Y but made by a different process Q2.” Beck believes he is entitled to a patent to mixture Y. In accordance with USPTO rules and procedures set forth in the MPEP, which of the following would be the best reply to the rejection of his claim?
(A) An argument that the claimed product has an unexpectedly low melting point of 150° F, supported by an affidavit showing that the mixture Y made by process Q2 exhibits a melting point of 300° F.
(B) An argument that the processes used by applicant and patent A are different, supported by a third-party declaration stating only that the processes are different.
(C) An argument that the claimed product has an unexpectedly low melting point of 150° F, supported by a third-party declaration stating only that the products are different.
(D) An argument that the processes used by applicant and patent A are different, supported by an affidavit showing that the mixture Y made by process Q2 exhibits a melting point of 300° F.
(E) An argument that the claimed product has an unexpectedly low melting point of 150° F because the claimed mixture Y has a melting point of 150° F and the mixture Y of patent A has a melting point of 300° F.
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