MPEP 2164
The Enablement Requirement

This is the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 07.2015, Last Revised in November 2015

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2164    The Enablement Requirement [R-11.2013]

The enablement requirement refers to the requirement of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph that the specification describe how to make and how to use the invention. The invention that one skilled in the art must be enabled to make and use is that defined by the claim(s) of the particular application or patent.

The purpose of the requirement that the specification describe the invention in such terms that one skilled in the art can make and use the claimed invention is to ensure that the invention is communicated to the interested public in a meaningful way. The information contained in the disclosure of an application must be sufficient to inform those skilled in the relevant art how to both make and use the claimed invention. However, to comply with 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, it is not necessary to “enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use a perfected, commercially viable embodiment absent a claim limitation to that effect.” CFMT, Inc. v. Yieldup Int’l Corp., 349 F.3d 1333, 1338, 68 USPQ2d 1940, 1944 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (an invention directed to a general system to improve the cleaning process for semiconductor wafers was enabled by a disclosure showing improvements in the overall system). Detailed procedures for making and using the invention may not be necessary if the description of the invention itself is sufficient to permit those skilled in the art to make and use the invention. A patent claim is invalid if it is not supported by an enabling disclosure.

The enablement requirement of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, is separate and distinct from the written description requirement. Vas-Cath, Inc. v. Mahurkar, 935 F.2d 1555, 1563, 19 USPQ2d 1111, 1116-17 (Fed. Cir. 1991) (“the purpose of the ‘written description’ requirement is broader than to merely explain how to ‘make and use’”). See also MPEP § 2161. Therefore, the fact that an additional limitation to a claim may lack descriptive support in the disclosure as originally filed does not necessarily mean that the limitation is also not enabled. In other words, even if a new limitation is not described in the original disclosure, the addition of a new limitation in and of itself may not create an enablement problem provided that one skilled in the art could make and use the claimed invention with the new limitation. Consequently, such limitations must be analyzed for both enablement and description using their separate and distinct criteria.

Furthermore, when the limitation is not described in the specification portion of the application as filed but is in the claims, the limitation in and of itself may enable one skilled in the art to make and use the claimed invention. When claimed subject matter is only presented in the claims and not in the specification portion of the application, the specification should be objected to for lacking the requisite support for the claimed subject matter using form paragraph 7.44. See MPEP § 2163.06. This is an objection to the specification only and enablement issues should be treated separately.