In Ex party Rodriguez, the BPAI rejected a patent applicant's means-plus-function (MPF) claims as indefinite for failing to provide any corresponding structures in the specification beyond a general purpose computer. That decision followed the Federal Circuit's Aristocrat holding that "simply disclosing a computer as the structure designated to perform a particular function does not limit the scope of the claim to 'the corresponding structure, material, or acts' that perform the function, as required by section 112 paragraph 6."
A patent examiner recently wrote-in to identify the fact that the BPAI has recently remanded dozens of pending appeals in light of Rodriguez. The remands use the following form language:
Claims ___ of the instant application contain functional language that may be indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112, second paragraph. See Aristocrat Techs. Austl. Pty Ltd. v. Int’l Game Tech., 521 F.3d 1328 (Fed Cir. 2008); Ex parte Rodriquez, 92 USPQ2d 1395 (BPAI 2009). On September 2, 2008, the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, John J. Love, issued a memorandum entitled “Rejections under 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, when examining means (or step) plus function claim limitations under 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph” . . . Thus, there is a question as to whether claims ___, and the claims which depend upon these claims, meet the requirements of being definite under 35 U.S.C. § 112, second paragraph. . . . Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the application is remanded to the Examiner to determine if claims ___, and the claims which depend upon these claims, meet the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112.
See, Ex Parte Chefalas et al, Appeal No. 2009012658, Ex Parte Yamanaka et al, Appeal No. 2009010948, Ex Parte Gassen et al, Appeal No. 2009008147, Ex Parte McCabe, Appeal No. 2009013024, Ex Parte Selep et al, Appeal No. 2009008213, Ex Parte Martin et al, Appeal No. 2009011586, Ex Parte Tosey, Appeal No. 2009007299, Ex Parte Van Doorn, Appeal No. 2009011085, Ex Parte Sohraby et al, Appeal No. 2009012154, Ex Parte Breese et al, Appeal No. 2009008013, Ex Parte Choe et al, Appeal No. 2009010957, Ex Parte Swart et al, Appeal No. 2009011542, Ex Parte Kakinuma et al, Appeal No. 2009007905, Ex Parte Zriny et al, Appeal No. 2010001851, Ex Parte Park, Appeal No. 2010002356, Ex Parte Cherkasova et al, Appeal No. 2010000365, Ex Parte Messick, Appeal No. 2009014361, Ex Parte Levy et al, Appeal No. 2010000512, Ex Parte Gusler et al, Appeal No. 2010000556, Ex Parte Betge-Brezetz et al, Appeal No. 2010001913.
In the Chefalas case, the independent claim in question reads as follows:
48. A data processing system for handling a virus, the data processing system comprising:
receiving means for receiving a notification of a presence of a virus on a client data processing system through a communications link;
severing means for severing communication with the client data processing system through the communications link in response to receiving the notification; and
executing means for executing virus removal processes on the server data processing system.