Test of Enablement
Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 10.2019, Last Revised in June 2020
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2164.01 Test of Enablement [R-08.2012]
Any analysis of whether a particular claim is supported by the disclosure in an application requires a determination of whether that disclosure, when filed, contained sufficient information regarding the subject matter of the claims as to enable one skilled in the pertinent art to make and use the claimed invention. The standard for determining whether the specification meets the enablement requirement was cast in the Supreme Court decision of Minerals Separation Ltd. v. Hyde, 242 U.S. 261, 270 (1916) which postured the question: is the experimentation needed to practice the invention undue or unreasonable? That standard is still the one to be applied. In re Wands, 858 F.2d 731, 737, 8 USPQ2d 1400, 1404 (Fed. Cir. 1988). Accordingly, even though the statute does not use the term "undue experimentation," it has been interpreted to require that the claimed invention be enabled so that any person skilled in the art can make and use the invention without undue experimentation. In re Wands, 858 F.2d at 737, 8 USPQ2d at 1404 (Fed. Cir. 1988). See also United States v. Telectronics, Inc., 857 F.2d 778, 785, 8 USPQ2d 1217, 1223 (Fed. Cir. 1988) ("The test of enablement is whether one reasonably skilled in the art could make or use the invention from the disclosures in the patent coupled with information known in the art without undue experimentation."). A patent need not teach, and preferably omits, what is well known in the art. In re Buchner, 929 F.2d 660, 661, 18 USPQ2d 1331, 1332 (Fed. Cir. 1991); Hybritech, Inc. v. Monoclonal Antibodies, Inc., 802 F.2d 1367, 1384, 231 USPQ 81, 94 (Fed. Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 947 (1987); and Lindemann Maschinenfabrik GMBH v. American Hoist & Derrick Co., 730 F.2d 1452, 1463, 221 USPQ 481, 489 (Fed. Cir. 1984). Any part of the specification can support an enabling disclosure, even a background section that discusses, or even disparages, the subject matter disclosed therein. Callicrate v. Wadsworth Mfg., Inc., 427 F.3d 1361, 77 USPQ2d 1041 (Fed. Cir. 2005)(discussion of problems with a prior art feature does not mean that one of ordinary skill in the art would not know how to make and use this feature). Determining enablement is a question of law based on underlying factual findings. In re Vaeck, 947 F.2d 488, 495, 20 USPQ2d 1438, 1444 (Fed. Cir. 1991); Atlas Powder Co. v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 750 F.2d 1569, 1576, 224 USPQ 409, 413 (Fed. Cir. 1984).
The fact that experimentation may be complex does not necessarily make it undue, if the art typically engages in such experimentation. In re Certain Limited-Charge Cell Culture Microcarriers, 221 USPQ 1165, 1174 (Int’l Trade Comm'n 1983), aff’d. sub nom., Massachusetts Institute of Technology v. A.B. Fortia, 774 F.2d 1104, 227 USPQ 428 (Fed. Cir. 1985). See also In re Wands, 858 F.2d at 737, 8 USPQ2d at 1404. The test of enablement is not whether any experimentation is necessary, but whether, if experimentation is necessary, it is undue. In re Angstadt, 537 F.2d 498, 504, 190 USPQ 214, 219 (CCPA 1976).