MPEP 2131.03
Anticipation of Ranges

This is the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 08.2017, Last Revised in January 2018

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2131.03    Anticipation of Ranges [R-08.2017]

I.    A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE IN THE PRIOR ART WHICH IS WITHIN A CLAIMED RANGE ANTICIPATES THE RANGE

"[W]hen, as by a recitation of ranges or otherwise, a claim covers several compositions, the claim is ‘anticipated’ if one of them is in the prior art." Titanium Metals Corp. v. Banner, 778 F.2d 775, 227 USPQ 773 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (citing In re Petering, 301 F.2d 676, 682, 133 USPQ 275, 280 (CCPA 1962)) (emphasis in original) (Claims to titanium (Ti) alloy with 0.6-0.9% nickel (Ni) and 0.2-0.4% molybdenum (Mo) were held anticipated by a graph in a Russian article on Ti-Mo-Ni alloys because the graph contained an actual data point corresponding to a Ti alloy containing 0.25% Mo and 0.75% Ni and this composition was within the claimed range of compositions.).

II.    PRIOR ART WHICH TEACHES A RANGE OVERLAPPING OR TOUCHING THE CLAIMED RANGE ANTICIPATES IF THE PRIOR ART RANGE DISCLOSES THE CLAIMED RANGE WITH "SUFFICIENT SPECIFICITY"

When the prior art discloses a range which touches or overlaps the claimed range, but no specific examples falling within the claimed range are disclosed, a case by case determination must be made as to anticipation. In order to anticipate the claims, the claimed subject matter must be disclosed in the reference with "sufficient specificity to constitute an anticipation under the statute." What constitutes a "sufficient specificity" is fact dependent. If the claims are directed to a narrow range, and the reference teaches a broader range, other facts of the case, must be considered when determining whether the narrow range is disclosed with "sufficient specificity" to constitute an anticipation of the claims. Compare ClearValue Inc. v. Pearl River Polymers Inc., 668 F.3d 1340, 101 USPQ2d 1773 (Fed. Cir. 2012) with Atofina v. Great Lakes Chem. Corp, 441 F.3d 991, 999, 78 USPQ2d 1417, 1423 (Fed. Cir. 2006).

In ClearValue, the claim at issue was directed to a process of clarifying water with alkalinity below 50 ppm, whereas the prior art taught that the same process works for systems with alkalinity of 150 ppm or less. In holding the claim anticipated, the court observed that "there is no allegation of criticality or any evidence demonstrating any difference across the range." Id. at 1345, 101 USPQ2d at 1777. In Atofina, the court held that a reference temperature range of 100-500 degrees C did not describe the claimed range of 330-450 degrees C with sufficient specificity to be anticipatory, even though there was a slight overlap between the reference’s preferred range (150-350 degrees C) and the claimed range. "[T]he disclosure of a range is no more a disclosure of the end points of the range than it is each of the intermediate points." Id. at 1000, 78 USPQ2d at 1424. Patentee described claimed temperature range as "critical" to enable the process to operate effectively, and showed that one of ordinary skill would have expected the synthesis process to operate differently outside the claimed range.

If the prior art disclosure does not disclose a claimed range with "sufficient specificity" to anticipate a claimed invention, any evidence of unexpected results within the narrow range may render the claims unobvious. See MPEP § 716.02 et seq. The question of "sufficient specificity" is similar to that of "clearly envisaging" a species from a generic teaching. See MPEP § 2131.02.

A 35 U.S.C. 102 /103 combination rejection is permitted if it is unclear if the reference teaches the range with "sufficient specificity." The examiner must, in this case, provide reasons for anticipation as well as a reasoned statement regarding obviousness. Ex parte Lee, 31 USPQ2d 1105 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1993) (expanded Board). For a discussion of the obviousness of ranges see MPEP § 2144.05.

III.    PRIOR ART WHICH TEACHES A VALUE OR RANGE THAT IS VERY CLOSE TO, BUT DOES NOT OVERLAP OR TOUCH, THE CLAIMED RANGE DOES NOT ANTICIPATE THE CLAIMED RANGE

"[A]nticipation under § 1.2 can be found only when the reference discloses exactly what is claimed and that where there are differences between the reference disclosure and the claim, the rejection must be based on § 1.3 which takes differences into account." Titanium Metals Corp. v. Banner, 778 F.2d 775, 227 USPQ 773 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (Claims to titanium (Ti) alloy with 0.8% nickel (Ni) and 0.3% molybdenum (Mo) were not anticipated by, although they were held obvious over, a graph in a Russian article on Ti-Mo-Ni alloys in which the graph contained an actual data point corresponding to a Ti alloy containing 0.25% Mo and 0.75% Ni.).