Interpretation of expressions such as "Apparatus for ...", "Method for ...", etc.

If a claim commences with such words as: "Apparatus for carrying out the process etc...", this must be construed as meaning merely apparatus suitable for carrying out the process. An apparatus Apparatus which otherwise possesses all of the features specified in the claims but which would be is unsuitable for the stated purpose or would require requires modificationmodifications to enable it to be so used for said purpose, should is normally not be considered as anticipating the claim.

Similar considerations apply to a claim for a product for a particular use. For example, if a claim refers to a "mould for molten steel", this implies certain limitations for the mould. Therefore, a plastic ice cube tray with a melting point much lower than that of steel would does not come within the claim. Similarly, a claim to a substance or composition for a particular use should be is construed as meaning a substance or composition which is in fact suitable for the stated use; a known product which prima facie is the same as the substance or composition defined in the claim, but which is in a form which would render renders it unsuitable for the stated use, would does not deprive the claim of novelty. However, if the known product is in a form in which it is in fact suitable for the stated use, though it has never been described for that use, it would deprive deprives the claim of novelty.

An exception to this general principle of interpretation is where the claim is to a known substance or composition for use in a surgical, therapeutic or diagnostic method (see G‑II, 4.2, and  G‑VI, 7.1). Similarly, in the data-processing/computer program field, apparatus features of the means-plus-function type ("means for ...") are interpreted as means adapted to carry out the relevant steps/functions, rather than merely means suitable for carrying them out. For further information on claim formulations commonly used in computer-implemented inventions, see F‑IV, 3.9.

In contrast to an apparatus or product claim, in the case of a method claim that defines a working method which, for example, commences with such words as: "Method for remelting galvanic layers", the part "for remelting ..." should is not to be understood as meaning that the process is merely suitable for remelting galvanic layers, but rather as a functional feature concerning the remelting of galvanic layers and, hence, defining one of the method steps of the claimed working method (see T 848/93).

Analogously, in the case of a "method of manufacture", i.e. a claim directed to a method for manufacturing a product, the fact that the method results in the product is to be treated as an integral method step (see T 268/13).

For a claim that is directed to a method or process, the indication of an intended use of this method may at most be seen as limiting to the extent that the method has to be suitable for that use (see T 304/08). Such a claim would therefore be anticipated by a prior-art document describing a method having such suitability although not mentioning the specific use.

A claim which is directed to a method or process aiming at a certain purpose for the production of a product ("method of manufacture") has to be understood in the sense that the method or process has to be merely suitable for the production of the product, rather than comprising the use as an integral method step. Consequently, a prior disclosure of the same method, which is suitable for producing said specific product but does not indicate that the specific product is produced with it, anticipates a claim to the method for the production of that specific product.

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