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2131 Anticipation — Application of 35 U.S.C. 102 [R-08.2017]

A claimed invention may be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102 when the invention is anticipated (or is “not novel”) over a disclosure that is available as prior art. To reject a claim as anticipated by a reference, the disclosure must teach every element required by the claim under its broadest reasonable interpretation. See, e.g., MPEP § 2114, subsections II and IV.

“A claim is anticipated only if each and every element as set forth in the claim is found, either expressly or inherently described, in a single prior art reference.” Verdegaal Bros. v. Union Oil Co. of California, 814 F.2d 628, 631, 2 USPQ2d 1051, 1053 (Fed. Cir. 1987). “When a claim covers several structures or compositions, either generically or as alternatives, the claim is deemed anticipated if any of the structures or compositions within the scope of the claim is known in the prior art.” Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1351, 60 USPQ2d 1375, 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (claim to a system for setting a computer clock to an offset time to address the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem, applicable to records with year date data in “at least one of two-digit, three-digit, or four-digit” representations, was held anticipated by a system that offsets year dates in only two-digit formats). See also MPEP § 2131.02. “The identical invention must be shown in as complete detail as is contained in the ... claim.” Richardson v. Suzuki Motor Co., 868 F.2d 1226, 1236, 9 USPQ2d 1913, 1920 (Fed. Cir. 1989). The elements must be arranged as required by the claim, but this is not an ipsissimis verbis test, i.e., identity of terminology is not required. In re Bond, 910 F.2d 831, 15 USPQ2d 1566 (Fed. Cir. 1990). Note that, in some circumstances, it is permissible to use multiple references in a 35 U.S.C. 102 rejection. See MPEP § 2131.01.

2131.01 Multiple Reference 35 U.S.C. 102 Rejections [R-07.2022]

Normally, only one reference should be used in making a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102. However, a 35 U.S.C. 102 rejection over multiple references has been held to be proper when the extra references are cited to:

  • (A) Prove the primary reference contains an “enabled disclosure;”
  • (B) Explain the meaning of a term used in the primary reference; or
  • (C) Show that a characteristic not disclosed in the reference is inherent.

See subsections I-III below for more explanation of each circumstance.

I. TO PROVE REFERENCE CONTAINS AN “ENABLED DISCLOSURE”Extra References and Extrinsic Evidence Can Be Used To Show the Primary Reference Contains an “Enabled Disclosure”

When the claimed composition or machine is disclosed identically by the reference, an additional reference may be relied on to show that the primary reference has an “enabled disclosure.” In re Samour, 571 F.2d 559, 197 USPQ 1 (CCPA 1978) and In re Donohue, 766 F.2d 531, 226 USPQ 619 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (Compound claims were rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) over a publication in view of two patents. The publication disclosed the claimed compound structure while the patents taught methods of making compounds of that general class. The applicant argued that there was no motivation to combine the references because no utility was previously known for the compound and that the 35 U.S.C. 102 rejection over multiple references was improper. The court held that the publication taught all the elements of the claim and thus motivation to combine was not required. The patents were only submitted as evidence of what was in the public's possession before the invention.).

II. TO EXPLAIN THE MEANING OF A TERM USED IN THE PRIMARY REFERENCEExtra References or Other Evidence Can Be Used to Show Meaning of a Term Used in the Primary Reference

Extrinsic evidence may be used to explain but not expand the meaning of terms and phrases used in the reference relied upon as anticipatory of the claimed subject matter. In re Baxter TravenolLabs., 952 F.2d 388, 21 USPQ2d 1281 (Fed. Cir. 1991) (Baxter Travenol Labs. invention was directed to a blood bag system incorporating a bag containing DEHP, an additive to the plastic which improved the bag’s red blood cell storage capability. The examiner rejected the claims over a technical progress report by Becker which taught the same blood bag system but did not expressly disclose the presence of DEHP. The report, however, did disclose using commercial blood bags. It also disclosed the blood bag system as “very similar to [Baxter] Travenol’s commercial two bag blood container.” Extrinsic evidence (depositions, declarations and Baxter Travenol’s own admissions) showed that commercial blood bags, at the time Becker’s report was written, contained DEHP. Therefore, one of ordinary skill in the art would have known that “commercial blood bags” meant bags containing DEHP. The claims were thus held to be anticipated.).

III. TO SHOW THAT A CHARACTERISTIC NOT DISCLOSED IN THE REFERENCE IS INHERENT Extra Reference or Evidence Can Be Used To Show an Inherent Characteristic of the Thing Taught by the Primary Reference

“To serve as an anticipation when the reference is silent about the asserted inherent characteristic, such gap in the reference may be filled with recourse to extrinsic evidence. Such evidence must make clear that the missing descriptive matter is necessarily present in the thing described in the reference, and that it would be so recognized by persons of ordinary skill.” Continental Can Co. USA v. Monsanto Co., 948 F.2d 1264, 1268, 20 USPQ2d 1746, 1749-50 (Fed. Cir. 1991) (The court went on to explain that “this modest flexibility in the rule that ‘anticipation’ requires that every element of the claims appear in a single reference accommodates situations in which the common knowledge of technologists is not recorded in the reference; that is, where technological facts are known to those in the field of the invention, albeit not known to judges.” 948 F.2d at 1268, 20 USPQ at 1749-50.). Note that as long as there is evidence of record establishing inherency, failure of those skilled in the art to contemporaneously recognize an inherent property, function or ingredient of a prior art reference does not preclude a finding of anticipation. Atlas Powder Co. v. IRECO, Inc., 190 F.3d 1342, 1349, 51 USPQ2d 1943, 1948 (Fed. Cir. 1999) (Two prior art references disclosed blasting compositions containing water-in-oil emulsions with identical ingredients to those claimed, in overlapping ranges with the claimed composition. The only element of the claims arguably not present in the prior art compositions was “sufficient aeration . . . entrapped to enhance sensitivity to a substantial degree.” The Federal Circuit found that the emulsions described in both references would inevitably and inherently have “sufficient aeration” to sensitize the compound in the claimed ranges based on the evidence of record (including test data and expert testimony). This finding of inherency was not defeated by the fact that one of the references taught away from air entrapment or purposeful aeration.). See also In re King, 801 F.2d 1324, 1327, 231 USPQ 136, 139 (Fed. Cir. 1986); Titanium Metals Corp. v. Banner, 778 F.2d 775, 782, 227 USPQ 773, 778 (Fed. Cir. 1985). See MPEP § 2112 - § 2112.02 for case law on inherency. Also note that the critical date of extrinsic evidence showing a universal fact need not antedate the filing date. See MPEP § 2124.

2131.02 Genus-Species Situations [R-07.2022]


“A generic claim cannot be allowed to an applicant if the prior art discloses a species falling within the claimed genus.” The species in that case will anticipate the genus. In re Slayter, 276 F.2d 408, 411, 125 USPQ 345, 347 (CCPA 1960); In re Gosteli, 872 F.2d 1008, 10 USPQ2d 1614 (Fed. Cir. 1989) (Gosteli claimed a genus of 21 specific chemical species of bicyclic thia-aza compounds in Markush claims. The prior art reference applied against the claims disclosed two of the chemical species. The parties agreed that the prior art species would anticipate the claims unless applicant was entitled to his foreign priority date.).


A genus does not always anticipate a claim to a species within the genus. However, when the species is clearly named, the species claim is anticipated no matter how many other species are additionally named. See Ex parteA, 17 USPQ2d 1716 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1990) (The claimed compound was named in a reference which also disclosed 45 other compounds. The Board held that the comprehensiveness of the listing did not negate the fact that the compound claimed was specifically taught. The Board compared the facts to the situation in which the compound was found in the Merck Index, saying that “the tenth edition of the Merck Index lists ten thousand compounds. In our view, each and every one of those compounds is ‘described’ as that term is used in [pre-AIA] 35 U.S.C. 102(a), in that publication.”). Id. at 1718. See also In re Sivaramakrishnan, 673 F.2d 1383, 213 USPQ 441 (CCPA 1982) (The claims were directed to polycarbonate containing cadmium laurate as an additive. The court upheld the Board’s finding that a reference specifically naming cadmium laurate as an additive amongst a list of many suitable salts in polycarbonate resin anticipated the claims. The applicant had argued that cadmium laurate was only disclosed as representative of the salts and was expected to have the same properties as the other salts listed while, as shown in the application, cadmium laurate had unexpected properties. The court held that it did not matter that the salt was not disclosed as being preferred, the reference still anticipated the claims and because the claim was anticipated, the unexpected properties were immaterial.).


“[W]hether a generic disclosure necessarily anticipates everything within the genus … depends on the factual aspects of the specific disclosure and the particular products at issue.” Sanofi-Synthelabo v. Apotex, Inc., 550 F.3d 1075, 1083, 89 USPQ2d 1370, 1375 (Fed. Cir. 2008). See also Osram Sylvania Inc. v. American Induction Tech. Inc., 701 F.3d 698, 706, 105 USPQ2d 1368, 1374 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (“how one of ordinary skill in the art would understand the relative size of a genus or species in a particular technology is of critical importance”).

A reference disclosure can anticipate a claim when the reference describes the limitations but "'d[oes] not expressly spell out' the limitations as arranged or combined as in the claim, if a person of skill in the art, reading the reference, would ‘at once envisage’ the claimed arrangement or combination.” Kennametal, Inc. v. Ingersoll Cutting Tool Co., 780 F.3d 1376, 1381, 114 USPQ2d 1250, 1254 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (quoting In re Petering, 301 F.2d 676, 681(CCPA 1962)). In Kennametal, the challenged claim was to a cutting tool requiring a ruthenium binding agent with a physical vapor deposition (PVD) coating. The reference described all the elements of the claimed coated cutting tool but did not explicitly disclose the specific combination of ruthenium binding agent with a PVD coating. However, the reference disclosed that ruthenium was one of five specified binding agents and PVD was one of three suitable coating techniques. The Federal Circuit stated that the reference’s “express ‘contemplat[ion]’ of PVD coatings provided sufficient evidence that a reasonable mind could find that a person of skill in the art… would immediately envisage applying a PVD coating. Thus, substantial evidence supports the Board's conclusion that [the reference] effectively teaches 15 combinations, of which one anticipates pending claim 1. Though it is true that there is no evidence in [the reference] of ‘actual performance’ of combining the ruthenium binder and PVD coatings, this is not required.” Kennametal, 780 F.3d at 1383, 114 USPQ2d at 1255 (citations omitted). See also Nidec Motor Corp. v. Zhongshan Broad Ocean Motor Co., 851 F.3d 1270, 1274, 122 USPQ2d 1116, 1120 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (“Kennametal does not stand for the proposition that a reference missing a limitation can anticipate a claim if a skilled artisan viewing the reference would “at once envisage” the missing limitation. Rather, Kennametal addresses whether the disclosure of a limited number of combination possibilities discloses one of the possible combinations.”).

When a claimed compound is not specifically named in a reference, but instead it is necessary to select portions of teachings within the reference and combine them, e.g., select various substituents from a list of alternatives given for placement at specific sites on a generic chemical formula to arrive at a specific composition, anticipation can only be found if the classes of substituents are sufficiently limited or well delineated. Ex parte A, 17 USPQ2d 1716 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1990). If one of ordinary skill in the art is able to “at once envisage” the specific compound within the generic chemical formula, the compound is anticipated. One of ordinary skill in the art must be able to draw the structural formula or write the name of each of the compounds included in the generic formula before any of the compounds can be “at once envisaged.” One may look to the preferred embodiments to determine which compounds can be anticipated. In re Petering, 301 F.2d 676, 133 USPQ 275 (CCPA 1962).

In In re Petering, the prior art disclosed a generic chemical formula “wherein X, Y, Z, P, and R'- represent either hydrogen or alkyl radicals, R a side chain containing an OH group.” The court held that this formula, without more, could not anticipate a claim to 7-methyl-9-[d, l'-ribityl]-isoalloxazine because the generic formula encompassed a vast number and perhaps even an infinite number of compounds. However, the reference also disclosed preferred substituents for X, Y, Z, P, R, and R' as follows: where X, P, and R' are hydrogen, where Y and Z may be hydrogen or methyl, and where R is one of eight specific isoalloxazines. The court determined that this more limited generic class consisted of about 20 compounds. The limited number of compounds covered by the preferred formula in combination with the fact that the number of substituents was low at each site, the ring positions were limited, and there was a large unchanging structural nucleus, resulted in a finding that the reference sufficiently described “each of the various permutations here involved as fully as if he had drawn each structural formula or had written each name.” The claimed compound was 1 of these 20 compounds. Therefore, the reference “described” the claimed compound and the reference anticipated the claims.

In In re Schauman, 572 F.2d 312, 197 USPQ 5 (CCPA 1978), claims to a specific compound were anticipated because the prior art taught a generic formula embracing a limited number of compounds closely related to each other in structure and the properties possessed by the compound class of the prior art was that disclosed for the claimed compound. The broad generic formula seemed to describe an infinite number of compounds but claim 1 was limited to a structure with only one variable substituent R. This substituent was limited to low alkyl radicals. One of ordinary skill in the art would at once envisage the subject matter within claim 1 of the reference.

Compare In re Meyer, 599 F.2d 1026, 202 USPQ 175 (CCPA 1979) (A reference disclosing “alkaline chlorine or bromine solution” embraces a large number of species and cannot be said to anticipate claims to “alkali metal hypochlorite.”); Akzo N.V.v.International Trade Comm’n, 808 F.2d 1471, 1 USPQ2d 1241 (Fed. Cir. 1986) (Claims to a process for making aramid fibers using a 98% solution of sulfuric acid were not anticipated by a reference which disclosed using sulfuric acid solution but which did not disclose using a 98% concentrated sulfuric acid solution.). See MPEP § 2144.08 for a discussion of obviousness in genus-species situations.

2131.03 Anticipation of Ranges [R-10.2019]


“[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 rePetering, 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.).


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 nonobvious. See MPEP § 716.02et 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 and 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.


“[A]nticipation under § 102 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 § 103 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.).

2131.04 Secondary Considerations [R-08.2012]

Evidence of secondary considerations, such as unexpected results or commercial success, is irrelevant to 35 U.S.C. 102 rejections and thus cannot overcome a rejection so based. In re Wiggins, 488 F.2d 538, 543, 179 USPQ 421, 425 (CCPA 1973).

2131.05 Nonanalogous or Disparaging Prior Art [R-08.2012]

“Arguments that the alleged anticipatory prior art is ‘nonanalogous art’ or ‘teaches away from the invention’ or is not recognized as solving the problem solved by the claimed invention, [are] not ‘germane’ to a rejection under section 102.” Twin Disc, Inc.v. United States, 231 USPQ 417, 424 (Cl. Ct. 1986) (quoting In re Self, 671 F.2d 1344, 213 USPQ 1, 7 (CCPA 1982)). See also State Contracting & Eng’ g Corp. v. Condotte America, Inc., 346 F.3d 1057, 1068, 68 USPQ2d 1481, 1488 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (The question of whether a reference is analogous art is not relevant to whether that reference anticipates. A reference may be directed to an entirely different problem than the one addressed by the inventor, or may be from an entirely different field of endeavor than that of the claimed invention, yet the reference is still anticipatory if it explicitly or inherently discloses every limitation recited in the claims.).

A reference is no less anticipatory if, after disclosing the invention, the reference then disparages it. The question whether a reference “teaches away” from the invention is inapplicable to an anticipation analysis. Celeritas Technologies Ltd. v. Rockwell International Corp., 150 F.3d 1354, 1361, 47 USPQ2d 1516, 1522-23 (Fed. Cir. 1998) (The prior art was held to anticipate the claims even though it taught away from the claimed invention. “The fact that a modem with a single carrier data signal is shown to be less than optimal does not vitiate the fact that it is disclosed.”). See Upsher-Smith Labs. v. Pamlab, LLC, 412 F.3d 1319, 1323, 75 USPQ2d 1213, 1215 (Fed. Cir. 2005)(claimed composition that expressly excluded an ingredient held anticipated by reference composition that optionally included that same ingredient); see also Atlas Powder Co. v. IRECO, Inc., 190 F.3d 1342, 1349, 51 USPQ2d 1943, 1948 (Fed. Cir. 1999) (Claimed composition was anticipated by prior art reference that inherently met claim limitation of “sufficient aeration” even though reference taught away from air entrapment or purposeful aeration.).



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Last Modified: 02/16/2023 12:58:20