Thursday, 1 March 2018

Paper A 2018 Glass panes for VIG glazing

Here a quick first attempt at the claims (ignoring formal aspects).

We welcome your comments.

The DeltaPatents team

Jelle, Jessica, Nico and Sander

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1. A method to create protrusions on a surface of a glass pane comprising:
- providing a glass pane,
- irradiating the glass pane with a UV and/or IR laser beam to the working temperature of the glass pane to create a protrusion with a minimum height of 100 µm at a first location on the surface of the glass pane facing the laser,
- solidifying the protrusion by terminating the irradiation and providing a stream of cooling air over the surface of the glass pane
- and repeating the irradiation and solidification at at least one location, different from the first location, on the surface facing the laser.

2. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the laser beam is generated by a pulsed laser.

3. A method as claimed in any of the preceding claims wherein the laser beam is kept perpendicular to the glass pane when irradiating the surface.

4. A method as claimed in any of the preceding claims, further comprising providing protrusions on both surfaces of the glass pane, where the protrusions on each side are arranged substantially coincidental.

5. A method as claimed in claim 4, wherein the step of providing protrusions on both surface of the glass pane comprises, after having provided protrusions on a first surface of the glass pane, turning the pane around, and then irradiating a second surface of the glass pane different from the first surface of the glass pane by repeating the method steps on the second surface.

6. A method as claimed in claim 4, wherein the step of providing protrusions on both surface of the glass pane comprises using two lasers one on each side of the pane.

7. A method as claimed in claim 5 or 6, wherein both lasers are pulsed IR-lasers.

8. A method as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the step of irradiating the glass pane to create a protrusion comprises forming the protrusion against an obstacle element which is transparent to the laser.

9. A method as claimed in claim 8, wherein the obstacle element is sodium chloride or quartz glass.

10. A method as claimed in claim 8 or 9, wherein the obstacle element is in the form of a pane that is spaced apart from the glass pane on which the protrusion is formed.

11. A glass pane comprising protrusions having a convex shape with a minimum height of 100 µm and formed as monolithic structures with the glass pane.

12. A glass pane as claimed in claim 11, wherein the protrusions have the form of a hemisphere flattened at its upper part.

13. A Vacuum-Insulated-Glass (VIG) glazing comprising the glass pane according to claim 10 and at least one further glass pane without protrusions assembled spaced apart in a frame, wherein the protrusions of the glass pane are used as spacers between the glass panes and a space between the glass panes being vacuum.

14. The VIG-glazing as claimed in claim 13, wherein the VIG-glazing is triple VIG-glazing consisting of three glass panes; one of the glass panes is without protrusions and both other glass panes only have protrusions on one of surfaces; the protrusions on both panes being arranged such that they are substantially coincident in the assembled frame and the three glass panes being arranged such that they are spaced apart by the protrusions on the glass panes.

15. The VIG-glazing according to claim 13, wherein the VIG-glazing is triple VIG-glazing consisting of three glass panes wherein a middle one of the glass panes comprises protrusions on both surfaces of the glass pane; the protrusions being arranged such that they are substantially coincident on both surfaces of the pane, and wherein both outer glass panes are glass panes without protrusions.

53 comments:

  1. In claim 1, do we need to make a second protrusion? I also have product by process claim, since I was not sure that I can claim all monotlitic convex shape protrusions, it sounds to broad. Also in claim 1, why limit to 100 microns? That is only important for glazing but does not solve a problem of convex shape which is solved in claim 1. Thanks

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    1. I think that a second protrusion is not needed ([7] "The irradiation can be repeated...", not "need to be repeated..."). I understand that the technical problem (how to obtain a method more economic/simple while maintaining good optical properties) is already solved by at least one protrusion... or in other words that "at least two protrusions" adds little to the solving of said technical problem but reduces the scope for sure.

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    2. And I did not limit to a height 100 µm either ([18]: "It is known from the conventional spacers (...) that (...) the protrusions should have a height H of 100 µm or more" --> "should", not "must", + known from the prior art, does not solve our technical problem...)

      But, I limited to the feature in [12] (glass pane oriented perpendicular to the plane of the laser to obtain a protrusion with a circular base) because to me, this was a condition to obtain a "convex" shape according to the invention (= hemisphere that might be flattened at its upper part --> a hemisphere has a circular base)

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    3. glass pane oriented perpendicular to the plane of the laser to obtain a protrusion with a circular base

      me too, the goal is to get these protrusions of a convex shape ... otherwise there is no need for cooling air

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    4. I agree, a perpendicular beam is essential so as to otain the circular base ([012]) of an hemisphere, which defines a convex shape [013]).
      I also do not include the height ("Should" in [018])
      Paloma

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    5. I do not think that part (perpedicularity) was essential. The last paragraph explaining all that reads something like: "All of this is known to the person skilled in the art". For me that clearly implies that you claim just the irradiation and a person skilled in the art, as the Examiner, understands all that.
      Regarding the height, even if it reads "should" it states that no good isolation properties would be attained. Therefore, when the VIG assemblies are made...
      Just the way I intepreted of course

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    6. Thanks Yago for your comments.
      Regarding the perpendicularity, the french version of [012] teaches "such APPARATUS are well known", but it does not teach that ways of using such apparatus for creating a circular base are well known (even if I concede it is obvious). I just realize that the english version uses the term "arrangements" instead of "apparatus", which may explain a different interpretation ?
      Even if the apparatus/arrangement/process is well-knonwn, so as to obtain a convex shape, which is essential, a circular base is necessary and this can only be obtained with a perpendicular beam. D1 teaches non convex shapes. Hence novelty is ensured by the convexity, hence, to my opinion, thanks to the perpendicular beam.
      Regarding the height, I agree it could be discussed, even though the "should" term was confusing.
      Paloma

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  2. Thank you very much Jelle and the whole Delta Patents Team,

    unfortunately I introduced the pulsed laser in to independent claim 1. I was thinking a lot about this feature during the exam as it appears to be economically irrelevant to use the constant laser. Now I created a more narrow scope of protection.

    Further, I missed to mention the resulting product (your claim 11), but described it in detail said product in the VIG glazing, as I somehow felt that the client is most keen on the method and the glazing. Maybe I misinterpreted this and simply overlooked the obvoius glass pane (stupid me).

    Do you as experienced tutors have any feeling about the possible marks for each independent claim?

    In general, the paper A was fair, not to much text with 9 pages in total, but I was running short of time in the end. I could finish the exam, but it was really close.

    Thanks in advance

    Dirk

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  3. I took it from one paragraph related to improvements of over 40% of transparency (I don't have the copy in front of me right now), that this improvement was in fact conferred by the method itself (even though the convexity of the protrusion contributes further to said improvement).

    Accordingly, I took it that the objective technical problem was to improve transparency of glasses at the site of protrusion, which would necessarily require to claim (i) the process (involving the pulsed laser and the cooling air) and (ii) the product-by-process.

    To me, the other smaller improvements (such as the 100 um value) were very narrow and could have led to a lack of unity (which I mentioned in the Note).

    Am I... screwed?

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  4. Dear Delta-Team,
    thank you for your answers.

    Can you please provide the paper in the three languages as PDF?

    Thank you
    Thomas

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  5. I thought that pulsed laser was essential, as the client had negative results with continuous wave lasers and also deemed it undesirable (not economical), so I put pulsed laser into my claim 1. I didn't put height of 100 µm in claim 1 because it's known from conventional spacers. Looking forward to more opinions. Thanks.

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  6. Hi, thank you very much for your solution. Here my comments (only the differences with DeltaPatents' solution)

    In the Method claim,
    I did not limit it with:
    - "to the working temperature of the glass pane";
    - minimum height of 100 um;
    - repeating the irradiation and solidification.

    In the solidification step I included at the end :"in order to obtain a convex shape of the protrusion"

    In the Glass Pane claim:
    I did not include:
    -minimum height of 100 um;
    and included:
    - the protrusion has the same composition as the glass pane.

    Basically, I had "at least one protrusion". I believe this gives a broader protection (One could produce, for example, a glass pane with 3 protrusions facing another glass pane with only one protrusion).

    What do you think about?

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    1. Sorry, forgot to say that I also included "pulsed" in the method claim

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  7. Besides... I remember that the objective of the client is not only to obtain a broad protection but also the possibility to licence.

    Accordingly, because the continuous beam embodiment does not appear to have practical utility (expensive/not even tested by the client), there was even no point in trying absolutely to include in the scope of protection.

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  8. I agree in general with your claim 1, but it is not essential to repeat the process and the 100µm is not essential (but it is for the glass panel used to create VIG...
    AS the client said that he want to licensed his technologies, it is not as smart limitation,
    in addition our claim limit the use of multiple laser use in the same time on the same surface)

    Personally i prefer,
    precess comprising at least
    - one step of irradiation of a at least one localized surface of a glass panel
    - one solidifying the protrusion by terminating the irradiation and providing a stream of cooling air over the surface of the glass pane

    In addition you don't have the second process claim about the assembly/manufacture of the VIG
    and one of the advantage of using the glass with protrusions is to facilitated the said process...

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    1. I also went with a further process claim about assembly. This seemed important(at the time). I hope it is not punished!

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    2. I will also ad that the UV or IR laser is not essential, the letter said laser, the advantage to use uv or IR is to obtain absorption of UV/IR, but it is not essential (regular glass windows don't not automatically have it) therefor a "regular" laser will be able to forme a protrusion by heating the localized point on the surface

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  9. "product by process" seems very reasonable to me, at least to have a bit of chemistry in this EM paper:)

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    1. the glass panel is new so you don't need a product by process, but it is useful to add as dependent claim of the glass panel (and will reduce there by the number of claim)

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    2. Misunderstood Product-by-Process loverMarch 02, 2018 11:24 am

      Check yourself: if the glass pane were not new, would making it a product-by-process claim render it novel?

      Pro-tip: no (GL F-IV 4.12)

      I luuuuvv product by process, the only reason I didn't do it is that up to now, all A papers had a "-10 marks if it's product by process" in the marking table (if them Delta-tables are to be trusted). If this were a real client I would have gone PbP (or at least had solid basis for it in the description).

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  10. what about a independent product claim like this:
    "A VIG glazing comprising at least two glass-panes that are mounted spaced apart in a frame such that the space between the glass panes is under a pressure of less than 1 atm
    characterized in that;
    at least one of the glass pane (3) has at least one monolithic protrusion on at least one of its surfaces and the monolithic protrusion has a regular substantially convex-shape."
    Eddy

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  11. I don´t think you need
    - the 100 um
    - repeating the method on a second position

    Furthermore, the client told us, he was unable to do it with a non-pulsed laser, so I assumed the laser must be pulsed

    I included in the method claim a more specific definition for the protrusions

    - convex shape formed as monolithic structures with the glass pane

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  12. isn't the glass pane as defined in claim 11 not already known (at least implicitly) from D1 ? A protrusion is as such always "convex" and glass panes with monolithic protrusions for use in VIG glazing as disclosed in D1 must have a protrusion height of more than 100 micrometer...

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    1. same opinion here, even if it does say the protrusion is irregular it still sticks out from the glass. i went for glazing with the height feature.

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  13. I was very unsure. That´s the reason why I did't claim the glass pane and went directly for the VIG

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  14. Can an independent method claim comprising the steps of your solution but begining with "a method for producing a glass pane having at least a monolithic protrusion on one of its surfaces having a convex shape comprising the steps of (exactly your steps but providing a glass pane is missing)" get a at least a half of the points for that claim?

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. Hi , have you at delta patents discussed how you expect the marks to be divided in such Paper A claims?
    Thanks.

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  17. Do you think the protrusions disclosed in D1 are convex ?

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    1. I don't think so, they're described as "irregular" (D1 [4])

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    2. I would even think that "irregular" completely excludes "convex".

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  18. In my opinion

    D1 discloses:

    A method to create protrusions on a surface of a glass pane comprising:
    - providing a glass pane,
    - irradiating the glass pane with a laser beam to create a protrusion at a first location on the surface of the glass pane facing the laser,
    - solidifying the protrusion by terminating the irradiation

    Although D2 discloses "convex elements as spacers, that consist of the glass material itself" D2[004],

    neither D1 nor D2 discloses the process step

    -solidifying the protrusion by ... providing a stream of cooling air over the surface of the glass pane [018]

    which is a must have for obtaining a convex form [018].

    So in my opinion the latter process step not disclosed by D1 or D2 is the one that makes the indepedent method claim new and inventive with maximum protection over D1 and/or D2.

    Therefore in my opinion

    -"UV and/or IR",
    -"to the working temperature of the glass pane",
    -"with a minimum height of 100 µm", and
    -"repeating the irradiation and solidification at at least one location, different from the first location, on the surface facing the laser"

    one can let out of the claim. But one has to insert

    "convex structure" or "monolithic convex structure".

    Furhermore:

    [012] states that for obtaining "a protrusion, which forms a monolithic structure with the glass plane" it is a must (that's what I understand when I read [012]) that "the glass plane is oriented perpendicular to the plane of the laser". Thatswhy Im not sure if one should insert that feature in the independent method claim too.

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    1. Dear A0, thank you for your elaborate analysis.

      I mainly agree with your reasoning, except for the "UV and/or IR" feature. Is I remember correctly, it is stated in the D1 document that a laser must have the correct wavelength to be able to interact with the glass pane. IR and UV lasers are then mentioned in D1 as suitable lasers (i.e. with a suitable wavelength). Moreover in the letter of the inventor it is mentioned that either IR and/or UV lasers can be used. It is not mentioned anywhere that lasers other than IR and UV can be used.

      In addition to your last statement, I have incorporated the feature that "the glass plane is oriented perpendicular to the plane of the laser" in the independent method claim, since I believe this is essential for obtaining the convex shape potrusion.

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    2. Hallo A0 and Remy, thanks for your statements. Good to hear I am not alone with my method claim ��

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    3. Dear Remy,

      i am not agree with you, IR or UV is only necessary when you want to change the characteristic of absorption of the glass... the laser can be "regular" to create the protrusion due tu the fact that the protrusion is donne with the difference of tension between melted surface and not melted surface

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    4. Dear Remy, Rasch and athur, thank you for your comments.

      Reffering to my comment from March 01, 2018 5:07 pm in which I considered the process step

      -solidifying the protrusion by ... providing a stream of cooling air over the surface of the glass pane [018]

      as the one making the independent method claim novel and inventive over D1 and/or D2.

      Although I still regard the latter process step as novel, I wonder why exactly it is inventive based on the following considerations:

      At least in the past mechanics papers and also the paper of 2017 the feature not disclosed by the prior art (novel feature) which made the independent apparatus/product claim 1 inventive over the prior art was disclosed in the paper with a special effect (for example: improvement of ...) over the prior art.
      So I think a good way to tackle these papers was to search the letter of the client for a feature or a group of features not disclosed by the prior art with a special effect (given in the paper) over the prior art.

      In present exam one had to deal with an independent method claim 1 with which one may has to deal differently with regard to this special effect. So in the exam I couldn't make out exactly what's the effect of the latter process step.

      For me there are two possibilities what the special effect (given in the paper) of the latter process step over the prior art could be:

      1. the "convex form" (actually an apparatus feature) is obtainable by it [18], or

      2. the "convex form" is obtainable by it [18], which brings with it an improvement in transparency of 20 to 40 % with respect to the known glazing [13] (that's what I would call a typical effect)

      What do you think about these considerations?

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  19. I thought the pulsed laser was an essential feature. As well as being uneconomical to use the steady laser, D1 mentions that the protrusion solidifies as soon as the irradiation is stopped, so solidification in a stream of cooling air (to get the convex protrusion) could not work. I know it is not explicit that the experiment in D1 used a steady laser, but I thought it was strongly implied that use of a steady laser was the reason for this difference between the results seen in D1 and the client's experiments.
    Alex

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  20. I hesitated a lot trying to decide which features were essential.
    -I hesitated on the type of laser, but finally included UV/IR in the independent claim since it isn't clear if other types of laser could work.
    -Then I hesitated if it has to be pulsed (I included it, now thinking I shouldn't have),
    -the height of the protrusions (didn't include since it was stated as "should" not "has to"),
    -repeating the steps (included it, but not sure at all)
    -the perpendicularity of the beam to the glass.
    The last in particular was confusing since the sentence wasn't clear if it is necessary for convexity or just to make the base circular. I read the same sentence in the other two languages and concluded (I think from the french) that it wasn't necessary for convexity.

    I found this year's exam a lot more confusing in this respect than past papers I did for practice. Judging from the comments here I'm not the only one.

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  21. Was a manufacturing process for VIG glazing with one of the panes having monolithic (forming a single unit with the glass) protrusions acting as spacers for keeping the glass panes at a distance from each other known from the art? D2 employed separate spacers (had to be glued, more difficult process), and D1 merely showed protrusions on a glass pane, not those protrusions being used as spacers in VIG. It disclosed that the pane could be used in VIG but that is not a teaching for employing it as spacers. There is no incentive for the skilled person to find the solution of improving the process in A1.

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    1. Exactly my thinking. Most other people seem to have included one or more ostensibly arbitrary features in claim 1.

      The client wanted to license to VIG manufacturers, so there shouldn't be any issue with a claim including two panes - a single pane with protrusions isn't novel over D1 anyway (hence the needing to include some other feature to try and claw back out of the prior art).

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  22. That annoying guy from your classMarch 02, 2018 10:29 am

    Hi all, we debated what was "essential" or not quite a bit in the break between A and B. I'll put down some of our talking points (and just to click-bait: the last one has not been mentioned yet):

    • Some required 100 µm because otherwise your product has no utility, others didn't require 100 µm because the invention was "monolithic convex" and that's all you need. Personally I required 100 µm. I was worried because there was no "method step" to assure you'd get to 100 µm - those steps were all rather vague. I glossed over it in the method, hoping that the standard "tweaking pulse rate and power etc." would allow a skilled person to simply do it. Also: the emphasis on blocking elements suggests that there's more of a risk of going too far instead of not reaching the 100. The group split about 50/50.

    • Some required the perpendicular laser in the method because it's linked to obtaining monolithic convex things in the setup. Others omitted it because that was only required in the minimum setup, and other setups might not require the perpendicular beam. If you're not perpendicular, then your beam projection would not be round and you wouldn't get a hemisphere, but that might be own knowledge. I included the perpendicular beam, as did about 40%.

    • Limiting to a pulsed laser was done by about 50%, mostly for reasons of enablement. The inventor does not tell you that continuous waves can also generate convex bumps, and besides: even if they could, it would not be practical. Of course: better and more energy efficient lasers can be invented in the future, rendering it economical again… but the enablement issue persists. How are we to know that non-pulsed lasers can lead to convex bumps?

    • I did not use "vacuum" but instead "a pressure under 1 atmosphere" because that was provided as the inventor’s own definition, which I thought to be quite loose and uncommon. A couple of other people also did this (like 30%).

    • I did a "use of PANE OF CLAIM X-XX in the manufacture of a VIG OF CLAIM Y-YY". To cater to the "we wanna license it out" sentence. Yeah, I understand there's redundancy if the products are already protected, but hey, I only had 14 claims anyway. One other person who used to draft a lot of Swiss style back in the day also did this.

    • Some (I'll admit it: only me, from the people I've talked to) included the definition of convex in the product claim, because the letter explained convex in such a way that it might appear non-standard.

    • This is the most scary one that might have been an oversight by whoever drafted the paper: is the method claim using glass (and thus the product claim) enabled? We cannot use all glass. The letter teaches us that quartz glass has no interaction with the laser, so we cannot use quartz glass. So how should we solve this? Limit the claim to "a glass pane that is not quartz glass"? Disclaimers are ugly. The paper mentions conventional window glass a lot. Should we limit to conventional window glass? In the end I decided that the mention of quartz glass was probably inadvertent (they should have chosen a different material to prevent this confusion) and I did not limit my main claims. But let me tell you that my first dependent product claim is "wherein the glass is conventional window glass."
    (In the end I decided to go for "all glass" because I remember quartz glass is chemically pure, while normall glass has trace stuff in it. D1 teaches photoinduction to trigger of off those trace elements. A skilled person would know quartz glass isn't really glass, it's more just a solid element... but just imagine if I didn't have a PhD in material science, I might have limited the main claim. I spent like ten minutes despairing about this whole thing! And there’s a major chance I won’t get any points for this dependent claim, even though I was considering fundamental issues of patentability while drafting it.)

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    1. So it seems like interpretations were pretty evenly split on a lot of the issues, which, to me, means the exam was very poorly drafted. I don't think there were that many problems in past papers (a least in the mechanics papers), so it's difficult to make a prognosis about how it will affect grading. The examiner's report will be interesting.

      What you write about quartz glass seems like own knowledge, which we aren't supposed to use... I completely missed that issue though, so I am hoping that it is indeed a drafting oversight.

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    2. The problem with trying to claim a single pane of glass is that (as everyone has pointed out) it’s not novel, so would require some extra feature to be added in. That fact that everyone is disagreeing over which feature to include in claim 1 - and that reasonable arguments can be made for many of them - means that none was particularly stand-out.

      What did the client actually want to protect? They wanted to license to VIG manufacturers. VIG requires at least two panes of glass, so why not include in claim 1 a step of mounting the pane having at least one protrusion with a second pane, the protrusion acting as a spacer? The features that everyone is arguing over can then be dependent claims.

      Three other reasons I think this was the way to go:

      a) the passage in D1 disclosing that they only use the protrusions for “superficial” logos was an easy passage to cite when arguing that the skilled person would not have thought about using the protrusions as spacers (“yes they disclose putting superficial logos on the glass but we’ve put them on the inside and done away with the need for traditional spacers”).

      b) the whole idea of the invention was using the protrusions as spacers. This is only achieved when there are two or more panes. A single pane having protrusions (even with some extra feature to make it novel) doesn’t really fall within the scope of what the client had invented.

      c) a single pane having protrusions would be an essential element of the invention, and so potentially caught anyway via contributory infringement.

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  23. I thought "to create a protrusion with a minimum height of 100 µm" was a result to be achieved- the step above gives no means for preventing the protrusion from being another size. I put obstruction element in teh claim. I'm a bit worried now though.

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  24. I made a bit of an error of judgement and put in a product by process claim to the VIG instead of a standard product claim for the glass pane and subsequent VIG product. Not really sure why I did it because I'd never do it in real life.

    I'm hoping my method claim will be enough to get me over the line. Its pretty similar to the one above with the exception of 100 micron height, which I don't believe is needed because it seems like it would be a requirement of the product that was known to the skilled person and doesn't need to be stated in a method claim.

    Jim

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    1. I am in the exact same position. I have never done a product by process in real life, and not sure what possessed me to try a new trick in the exam. Also didn't put the 100um limitation.

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  25. No technical knowledgeMarch 02, 2018 3:40 pm

    Just to add a few more issues with this paper into the mix:

    - D2 states ([004]) that "[f]or the glass plates we use separate convex elements as spacers, that consist of the glass material itself". How are we supposed to know whether 'separate' refers to each of the convex elements being separate from each other, or whether it refers to them being separate from the glass plates? I eventually decided it must be the latter, but surely this is just poor drafting.

    - For the obstacle element material(s), how are you supposed to work out, without any technical knowledge, that "sodium chloride and quartz glass" are alternatives, rather than materials which should be used together? I claimed the latter. Again, poor drafting.

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  26. i claimed a "method for producing a glass-plate" having at least one protrusion... (without puldes laser, without height, etc.) basically with the cooling step.

    i further claimed a VIG comprising a glass-plate with the convex protrusions

    further i claimed use of VIG for windows

    let's see!?!

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  27. My problem with a product claim directed to a glass pane with monolithic convex protrusion was a possible Art. 83 EPC objection. It is not known from the prior art how to produce these kind of hemispherical structures. D2 only teaches how to produce protrusion with irregular structures. The applicant states that a convex form of the protrusion can only be achieved with cooling during the process of manufacture. This requirement is new and essential in itself. As a claim should not only be new and inventive but also have to contain all features which are required for making the product reproducible, somehow the cooling has to be addressed. Therefore, I decided to use a product-by-process claim for the pane. Even though the product claim would be new and inventive, standing alone the pane would not be reproducible in view just of the claim and the prior art.

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  28. The lettre from the applicant indicates at paragraph [0008] that "photo-induced absorption is a modification of the absorption properties of substrates like glass by irradition". So I have clearly not limited claim 1 to glass but to "transparent substrates". What is the need to limit to glass only since the feature that made claim 1 novel and inventive was blowing cool air?

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  29. Hello,
    I'm surprised that there is no proposal for an apparatus for manufacture but only the method claims. Characterising portion: means for providing a gas flow for cooling.
    For a method, you've to catch the infringer red-handed. While an apparatus is evidence even not actually in use...

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    1. Hi. I thought the same as at least the section describing the obstacle element looked like pointing in this direction. In combination with the gas flow element I think it was definitely worth a try. We will see...

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