In re Noll, 545 F.2d 141, 191 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 721 (C.C.P.A. 1976) (full-text), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 875, 195 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 465 (1977).
Factual Background Edit
The claims were drawn to an apparatus for scan-converting a sequence of data signals into a second sequence of signals. The examiner and Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences rejected the application, claiming that the applicant perceived his invention "to lie in the computer program disclosed."
C.C.P.A. Court Proceedings Edit
The C.C.P.A. held that no matter how an applicant perceives his invention, it is the claims which define the invention. The claims were distinguished from those in Gottschalk v. Benson, since they were limited to a particular technology (computer graphic systems and scan-conversion of graphic information), and were directed to statutory subject matter since they were drawn to a physical structure and not to a law of nature or a mathematical algorithm.
The court further held that the claims which encompassed "means-plus-function" recitations were not subject to rejection for failure to disclose the detailed internal structure of the computer as programmed. Nor need the specification disclose the full range of equivalents of the invention, some of which may be non-existent at the time the application is filed.