Ex parte Sato

BPAI (June 12, 2006) (claims to lockup control system for torque converter of a vehicle equipped with air conditioner obvious over reference citing two separate embodiments).

Ex parte Sato deals with combining two separate embodiments from a prior art reference (Narita) to render a claim obvious.  Sato was attempting to claim a lockup control system for a torque converter of a vehicle equipped with an air conditioner.  One exemplary claim included the following limitations:  “[a] coasting lockup capacity [which] is controlled according to an operation load of the air conditioner and is increased as the operation load of the air conditioner increases” and “the lockup capacity . . . is stored as learned values for different operation loads of the air conditioner . . . .”

One Narita embodiment (Narita I), involves dynamically compensating the application capacity (with no mention of an air conditioner), while a second Narita embodiment (Narita II), teaches “the use of testing whether an air conditioner is ‘Off’ or ‘On' and adding an adjustment for the driving load of an air conditioner into the computation of the coasting lockup capacity” (with no specific discussion of learning capacity).  The examiner argued that it would have been obvious to combine Narita I and Narita II and teach the claim at issue.  The Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (the Board), in a non-precedential opinion, affirmed the examiner’s rejection.  In doing so, the Board noted that “it is well settled that a reference is useable for what it would have taught or suggested . . . and is not narrowly confined to the specific structures and procedures shown in the embodiments.  The Board went on to say that the Narita reference did, in fact, provide a suggestion for incorporating the features for each of the two embodiments, and that combining those features would have been “well within the level of a person of ordinary skill in the art.”

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