Where a process claim begins with wording such as "method for remelting galvanic layers", the part "for remelting" is not to be understood as meaning that the process is merely suitable for remelting such layers, but rather as a functional feature concerning the remelting of galvanic layers and, hence, defining one of the steps in the claimed process (see T 848/93 below). Such a case has to be distinguished, however, from those where the claim is directed to a process aimed at a particular purpose and comprises physical steps resulting in the production of a product (i.e. the claim is in fact directed towards the production of a product).
In T 848/93 the application claimed a process which differed from the prior art only in its use (remelting instead of vapour phase soldering). The board considered the process feature "remelting galvanic layers" to be a functional technical feature which established novelty. If a claim concerned e.g. an apparatus which differed from a known apparatus only as regards the use indicated, then the use was not an apparatus feature. This meant that the two pieces of apparatus were identical in terms of structure. If the known apparatus was suitable for the claimed use, the application lacked novelty. If the claim was directed to an object, a substance or a composition, the same applied. If however the claim was for a process, the situation was not comparable. In such a case, the use feature was a functional process feature comparable in category with the other features (steps) of the process.
See also T 1399/16, with further references.