T 0037/82 (Low-tension switch) of 29.7.1983

European Case Law Identifier: ECLI:EP:BA:1983:T003782.19830729
Date of decision: 29 July 1983
Case number: T 0037/82
Application number: 78101828.8
IPC class: -
Language of proceedings: DE
Download and more information:
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Documentation of the appeal procedure can be found in the Register
Bibliographic information is available in: DE | EN | FR
Versions: OJ
Title of application: -
Applicant name: Siemens
Opponent name: -
Board: 3.5.01
Headnote: I. Where a technical feature was clearly disclosed in the original application but its effect was not mentioned or not mentioned fully, yet it can be deduced from the original application on the basis of normal expert considerations, subsequent clarification of that effect in the description does not contravene Article 123(2) EPC.
II. In assessing the inventive step of a combination of features consideration must be given to a feature only if the applicant has provided evidence that it contributes either independently or in conjunction with one or more of the other features, to the solution of the problem set in the description.
Relevant legal provisions:
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 123(2)
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 56
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 52(1)
Keywords: Amendment to claims
Combination of features
Inventive step - effect not mentioned
Inventive step - dimensions
Subsequent specification of effect


Cited decisions:
Citing decisions:
T 0065/87
T 0386/87
T 0214/89
T 0144/90
T 0345/90
T 0425/90
T 0206/91
T 0278/92
T 0504/92
T 0574/92
T 0545/93
T 0164/94
T 0226/94
T 0259/94
T 0483/94
T 0912/94
T 0417/95
T 0589/95
T 0434/97
T 0418/98
T 0471/98
T 0878/98
T 0241/00
T 0817/00
T 0685/01
T 0442/02
T 0334/03
T 0500/04
T 0258/05
T 0529/05
T 1632/06
T 1144/07
T 0291/09
T 1798/09
T 0023/12
T 1357/12
T 1017/13

Summary of Facts and Submissions

I. European patent application No. 78 101 828.8 (publication No. 0 003 236), filed on 22 December 1978 and claiming priority of 19 January 1978 (DE), was refused by decision of the Examining Division of the European Patent Office dated 6 October 1981. This decision was based on claims 1 to 4 filed on 20 May 1981.

II. The refusal was on the grounds that the subject-matter of the application did not involve an inventive step in view of US-A- 3 632 939 and general specialised knowledge.

III. The applicant lodged an appeal against this decision on 27 November 1981, at the same time setting out the grounds of appeal. The appeal fee was paid on 27 November 1981. In the notice of appeal the applicant submitted the following main arguments: the Examining Division had overlooked the fact that even the low-tension power switches on the present-day market which are comparable in construction and purpose with the application's subject-matter display no features directed to a through insulation. The development of said switches comprises use of insulating means at various points, but without pointing in the direction of systematic and complete separation of the adjacent pole paths, thereby obviating the need for careful attention to the net and load sides.

IV. On 13 December 1982 the applicant filed new claims 1 to 3 and during the course of the oral proceedings on 17 December 1982 requested further amendments. The new claim 1 is limited in comparison with the version refused by the Examining Division by the inclusion of features from the former claim 4. By way of clarification of the new claim 1 the applicant submitted that the combination of all features produced the effect that the switch gases were forced to escape from the switch housing at the points provided therefor; this led to an increase in circuit-breaking capacity. Particularly as a result of the mounting of the projections and recesses a transmission of power was achieved along the length of the switch between the upper and lower parts, helping to control the increased circuit-breaking capacity. The applicant has requested that a European patent be granted on the basis of the following three claims; "1. Low-tension power switch (1) with several pole paths mounted in parallel with each other, each comprising a connection device (5), a stationary contact member (6), a movable contact member (7), a flexible conductor (10), a release (heating conductor 11) and a further connection device (12), one of the pole paths containing in addition a driving mechanism (16, 17) for the activation of all movable contact members (7), and also with an insulant housing (2) along a joint line (8) divided into an upper part (3) and a lower part (4), the separating walls (22, 23) of said housing between the pole paths overlapping each other by gradations and using openings (18, 19) close to their ends for clamping bolts, characterised in that (a) the separating walls (22, 23, 52, 53; 77, 78, 86, 87) of the upper part (3; 85) and the lower part (4; 70) overlap each other over their entire length and the outer walls (20, 21, 50, 51; 72, 73) of both housing sections (3, 4; 70, 85) overlap mainly over their entire length; (b) interruptions (74, 75, 76) in the overlap are mounted in the region of the two outer walls (72, 73) at staggered intervals; (c) the separating walls (22, 23) have cut-outs (25, 31; 26, 32) displaced by gradations in the region of components (14) joining the adjacent pole paths together and inserts (35) overlapping the components (14, 30) by gradations are set into the cut-outs; (d) the separating or outer walls (20, 21, 22, 23) of the upper and lower parts (3, 4) of the insulant housing (2) interlock exactly close to one of the front ends with a projection or recess (60, 61, 62, 63) and all other projections and recesses (64, 65, 66, 67) interlock with play along the outer walls (20, 21) and the separating walls (22, 23) of the two housing sections (3, 4).

2. Low-tension power switch according to claim 1, characterised in that the elevated parts (52b, 53b) of the separating walls (52, 53) of one housing section (3) are forked (52c, 53c, 52d, 53d) in the region of bolt holes (56, 57), one shaft (52d, 53d) forms part of the inner wall of one bolt hole (18, 19) and the separating walls (22, 23) of the other housing section (4) display insular projections (22c, 23c) designed for insertion between the shafts, each of said projections also forming part of the inner wall of a bolt hole (18, 19).

3. Low-tension power switch according to claim 1, characterised in that the bolt holes (90, 91) are completely incorporated into the elevated part (86b, 87b) of the separating walls (86, 87) of one housing section (85), the area (86c, 87c) containing the bolt holes is positioned between the elevated part (77b, 78b) of the separating walls (77, 78) of the other housing section (70) and an additional elevated part (77c, 78c), and the projections and recesses (92, 93, 94, 95) are mounted close to the bolt holes (80, 81, 90, 91)."

Reasons for the Decision

1. The appeal complies with Articles 106 to 108 and Rule 64 EPC and is therefore admissible.

2. The manner in which the mounting of the projections and recesses contributes to the attainment of greater circuit- breaking capacity was not explicitly stated in the application as originally filed. However, that mounting was itself clearly described and it was also indicated at several points that a power transmission is thereby made possible over the length of the switch. The Board of Appeal takes the view that the manner in which such power is produced lengthways through the effect of the switch gases can be deduced without difficulty from the original description by the person skilled in the art. Under these circumstances Article 123 (2) EPC is not contravened if that effect is now explicitly stated in the description in accordance with Rule 27(1) (d) EPC.

3. At the same time evidence is thus provided that the feature (d) relating to mounting of the projections and recesses contributes to the solution of the same problems as the other features (a-c). This is necessary since otherwise such a feature must not be considered when assessing inventive step.

4. It follows that the invention as set out in the presently valid version of claim 1 was disclosed in the European patent application as originally filed in a manner which meets the requirements of Article 83 EPC.

5. The mounting of the projections and recesses (feature d) is itself new. Although features a-c display an inventive step neither individually nor in combination, as the Examining Division rightly found in its decision, the combination of features a-d is not obvious from the state of the art. The switch according to claim 1 therefore involves an inventive step and claim 1 is allowable.

6. Claims 2 and 3 based on claim 1 relate to special embodiments of the switch according to claim 1; they may therefore also be allowed.

7. The amendments to the description filed on 3 May 1983 are intended to take account of the state of the art and to present clearly the problem and its solution in accordance with Rule 27 (1) (c) and (d) EPC. There are therefore no objections to them.


For these reasons, it is decided that:

The decision under appeal is set aside and the case is remitted to the Examining Division with the order to grant a European patent on the basis of the following documents:

1. description with amendments dated 3 May 1983,

2. claims as requested at the oral proceedings held on 17 December 1982,

3. original drawing.

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