This is an examination appeal.
The Examining Division (ED) refused the application on the grounds of lack of clarity and insufficient disclosure.
Claim 1 of the main request read:
Method of setting Reverse Link Channel Quality Indicator (CQI) Reporting Modes in an access terminal in a wireless communication system, characterized by:
- determining a value for CQIReportingMode;
- and setting reporting modes of the access terminal based on CQIReportingMode value.
In what follows the Board deals with the clarity objection:
[2.1.1] The ED held that the application did not meet the requirements of A 84, since the term “CQIReportingMode” used in claim 1 was vague and ambiguous and did not allow the skilled person to understand the limitations that this term introduced in the scope of the claims. This also applied to the terms “Single Code Word CQI Reporting Mode”, “Multiple Code Word CQI Reporting Mode”, and “Single Input and Single Output (SISO) CQI Reporting Mode” used in the dependent claims […].
[2.1.2] The board cannot agree with this finding.
It is established case law of the Boards of Appeal that the meaning of the features of a claim should be clear for the person skilled in the art from the wording of the claim alone (see e.g. G 1/04 [6.2]). In this regard, it is worth noting that a patent application (and thus also its claims) is addressed to a skilled reader and that therefore its context has to be taken into account when assessing the clarity of its claims.
The present application is addressed to a skilled reader in the field of wireless communication systems […]. From the wording of the claims alone, the reader skilled in that field would understand that
- channel quality indicators (CQIs) related to the reverse link of a wireless communication system are to be reported by an access terminal (see preamble of claims 1, 3, and 5);
- the modes of the access terminal for such reporting are to be set in the access terminal (see preamble of claims 1, 3, and 5);
- the setting is done based on a particular value for the respective reporting mode, called “CQIReportingMode” (see characterising portion of claims 1, 3, and 5);
- the possible reporting modes are modes which are called “Single Code Word CQI Reporting Mode”, “Multiple Code Word CQI Reporting Mode”, and “Single Input and Single Output (SISO) CQI Reporting Mode” (see claims 2, 4, and 6).
The board takes the view that the objected term “CQIReportingMode” may only be interpreted by the skilled reader as a mode for reporting channel quality information. That was also the interpretation “guessed” by the ED in the first-instance proceedings […]. But in the end, for whatever reasons, it was not taken into account in the clarity analysis. Hence, the board concludes that the expression “CQIReportingMode” is neither too vague and ambiguous nor renders the limitations of the claimed scope unclear.
[2.1.3] Consequently, the subject-matter of the claims, i.e. the matter for which protection is sought, is considered to be sufficiently clear for assessing novelty and inventive step, as implicitly confirmed by the novelty analysis performed by the ED […], and for establishing the scope of protection sought. For these reasons, the board holds that the present claims are clear within the meaning of A 84. […]
[2.3] In conclusion, the grounds for refusal […] are considered to be overcome with regard to the main request. Consequently, the decision under appeal is to be set aside.
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