Tuesday 22 January 2013

P&G: Parameters in Patent specifications

Veronique Kremer, Associate Director Legal - Innovation, Baby, Feminine & Family Care EMEA, Procter & Gamble (Germany) defined parameter patent claims as those claims requiring special test results to quantify a performance parameter.  These claims are not an easy way to get broad protection and they are generally disliked by examiners unless there is no other way of claiming a new benefit.  New test methods for new benefits will not show up in prior art searches so unusual parameters coupled with unusual test methods can be a prima facie reason for disallowing a patent on the grounds of lack of clarity because no meaningful comparison with prior art can be made.  The situation is better if unambiguous standard tests such as EDANA’s recommended methods are used and the details of the procedure provided in the patent are sufficiently detailed for another skilled person to repeat them.

2 cases were described.  In the first, nonwoven strength claims made without specifying the method resulted in rejection of the patent, and an appeal based on the fact that it was obvious to the skilled person that EDANA methods would be used for a nonwoven was thrown out.  In a similar situation a different patent appeal board granted a similarly unclear patent.  The recommendation – if you must use parameter claims, do your homework and remember that different boards have different views!

Also on Patents:
Krzysztof-Daniel Malowaniec Senior Vice President, Paul Hartmann (Germany) observed that of the 1000 patents per year on absorbent hygienic products, only ~6 per year covered male incontinence.  Nearly all male products cover light incontinence only and patents focus on their geometry and chassis construction.  Pouches, penis bags, tubes, shaped pads, clamps, catheters and condoms all appear in the literature and there appear to be many more products than necessary.  However the ageing of the population and increasing demand from developing countries is likely to change that, and male incontinence could once again become an area for innovation.

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