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Guidelines for Examination

 
 

6.5 Definition in terms of function

A claim may broadly define a feature in terms of its function, i.e. as a functional feature, even where only one example of the feature has been given in the description, if the skilled reader would appreciate that other means could be used for the same function (see also F‑IV, 2.1 and 4.10). For example, "terminal position detecting means" in a claim might be supported by a single example comprising a limit switch, it being evident to the skilled person that e.g. a photoelectric cell or a strain gauge could be used instead. In general, however, if the entire contents of the application are such as to convey the impression that a function is to be carried out in a particular way, with no intimation that alternative means are envisaged, and a claim is formulated in such a way as to embrace other means, or all means, of performing the function, then objection arises. Furthermore, it may not be sufficient if the description merely states in vague terms that other means may be adopted, if it is not reasonably clear what they might be or how they might be used.