Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Know the Terminology

It is important that patent professionals understand terms of art when drafting and prosecuting applications. This is particularly true in the outdoors arena, where words that in the abstract may seem similar, in fact mean very different things.

Today we review a patent application (14/419,258) by Spartan Precision Equipment Ltd. The invention relates to a rest for supporting an object, and more particularly to a rest which is in use attached to an object, for example, a rifle.  Fig. 1 from the patent application shows the basic configuration that uses a magnetic coupling to enable smooth rotation as the rifle is rotated, thereby improving accuracy. 

Claim 66 is one of the example claims of the application:

66. A bi-pod rifle rest, comprising:

a rifle fixture which is in use attached to a rifle, wherein the rifle fixture comprises a stand coupling which includes a magnetic element for removable attachment of a rest stand; and

a rest stand for resting on a surface, wherein the rest stand comprises a support body, first and second legs which are supported by the support body and a rifle coupling which includes a magnetic element for removable attachment to the stand coupling on the rifle;

wherein the stand coupling and the rifle coupling each comprise circular or near-circular sections, which provide for smooth rotation of the rifle coupling in relation to the stand coupling around a vertical axis and allow for rotation of the rifle about a horizontal axis.

The invention was focused on a situation where the rest is attached to the rifle, yet still allows smooth rotation. This operation can be quite important in the field where, for example, a hunter is scanning the horizon.  Those who are active in these arts understand that an attachment here is something quite different than a mere support, which may provide a base for the firearm, but is not actually attached to the firearm. 

In rejecting claim 66, the Examiner found that a prior art walking stick had all of the claimed elements (Barker, pictured below).  However, the walking staff merely stated that it could be used to mount other mechanisms that could support a firearm.  The applicants argued that because the examiner was relying on Barker to actually teach the attachment, the examiner was incorrect.

In the end the Patent Office did not agree with the applicants, asserting that there was no real difference between supporting a rifle and attaching to it.  However, in the real world, such a difference can be substantial and relates to the inventive features the applicant was trying to protect. 

So, make sure that when trying to convince the Patent Office to allow your application that you provide sufficient evidence explaining the real difference in terminology as it would be understood by those skilled and well-versed in the technology and applications at issue. 


Note that the views expressed herein do not represent the views of any law firm or client, and may not even represent the views of the author. This blog is NOT legal advice and is for informational purposes only. No attorney client relationship can be formed by reading this blog or using any of the information provided. The accuracy of the information provided has not been verified.