2.4.6 Deletion of feature in a claim mentioned "in particular"

In T 260/10 the feature "having at least one optical display unit and in particular at least one operating unit ..." in claim 1 as granted had been replaced and the words "and in particular at least one operating unit" thereby deleted. The board found that it generally depended on the specific context whether a feature following the expression "in particular" had to be regarded as optional. As a rule, an optional feature in the main claim was one which was not essential to the claimed teaching but instead served as an example illustrating other features. The wording used in claim 1 as granted meant that the claimed domestic appliance included not only an optical display unit but also an operating unit, the expression "in particular" having to be construed in the sense of "above all" or "especially". The operating unit was specified not as an example of a possible component, but rather as an essential part of the domestic appliance. In this case, "in particular" gave special emphasis to the operating unit as part of the appliance. The scope of protection was limited by this non-optional feature and its deletion therefore infringed Art. 123(3) EPC (see also T 916/08).

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