Wednesday, 7 April 2010

T 378/08 – Imprecise But Clear

[5.2] Claim 5 is amended over claim 14 as granted by reciting that the aluminium alloy of the workpieces is a corrosion-resistant precipitation hardened high-strength aluminium alloy. This feature is disclosed, in a general context (thus also applying to the embodiment according to claim 5), [in] the application as filed.

The [opponent] objected to this feature under A 84 as introducing no clear limitations.

It is accepted that the terms “corrosion-resistant” and “high-strength” are relative terms. However, their lack of precision does not entail a lack of clarity within the meaning of A 84.

The skilled person is indeed aware that precipitation hardened aluminium alloys are generally regarded as high-strength aluminium alloys (precipitation hardening in fact is one of the most widely used mechanisms for the strengthening of metal alloys). The skilled person is also aware that some aluminium alloys can be classified as corrosion-resistant due to their corrosion-resistant properties. The skilled person thus understands the meaning of the above-mentioned terms in the given context so that the claim as now worded is susceptible of an interpretation which strikes an appropriate balance between legal certainty and fair protection. 

To read the whole decision, click here.