In re American Academy of Science Tech Center

Lexis: 367 F.3d 1359

In this Federal Circuit case, the broadest reasonable construction means that "user computer" can encompass a mainframe. (see p. 1363)

Quote from p. 1364:
Michael Risch wrote:
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 Bond, 910 F.2d 831, 833 (Fed. Cir. 1990); accord Bass, 314 F.3d at 577 ("The PTO must apply the broadest reasonable meaning to the claim language, taking into account any definitions presented in the specification."); In re Cortright, 165 F.3d 1353, 1358 (Fed. Cir. 1999) ("Although the PTO must give claims their broadest reasonable interpretation, this interpretation must be consistent with the one that those skilled in the art would reach."); Hyatt, 211 F.3d at 1372. The "broadest reasonable construction" rule applies to reexaminations as well as initial examinations. See In re Hiniker Co., 150 F.3d 1362, 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998); In re Yamamoto, 740 F.2d 1569, 1571 (Fed. Cir. 1984). Giving claims their broadest reasonable construction "serves the public interest by reducing the possibility that claims, finally allowed, will be given broader scope than is justified." Yamamoto, 740 F.2d at 1571; accord Hyatt, 211 F.3d at 1372; In re Zletz, 893 F.2d 319, 322 (Fed. Cir. 1989) ("An essential purpose of patent examination is to fashion claims that are precise, clear, correct, and unambiguous. Only in this way can uncertainties of claim scope be removed, as much as possible, during the administrative process.").

Construing claims broadly during prosecution is not unfair to the applicant (or, in this case, the patentee), because the applicant has the opportunity to amend the claims to obtain more precise claim coverage. See Yamamoto, 740 F.2d at 1571-72 ("Applicants' interests are not impaired since they are not foreclosed from obtaining appropriate coverage for their invention with express claim language. An applicant's ability to amend his claims to avoid cited prior art distinguishes proceedings before the PTO from proceedings in federal district courts on issued patents. When an application is pending in the PTO, the applicant has the ability to correct errors in claim language and adjust the scope of claim protection as needed."); Zletz, 893 F.2d at 321 ("During patent prosecution when claims can be amended, ambiguities should be recognized, scope and breadth of language explored, and clarification imposed."); Hyatt, 211 F.3d at 1372.

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