“Each of a plurality”

Karen Hazzah noted on her All Things Pros blog on July 21st, the results of the Ex Parte Jourdan (Intel) appeal.  It is worth highlighting  again as it concerned the language “each of a plurality.”  

Given the prevalence of this language (as well as the language “each of the plurality . . .”)  in computer system claims, I think it will be a frequent  point of contention in the future — particularly during patent litigation.

The illustrative claim at issue read as follows:


1. A method comprising:

assigning an identification number (ID) to each of a plurality of micro-operations (uops) to identify a branch path to which the uop belongs;

determining whether one or more branches are predicted correctly;

determining which of the one or more branch paths are dependent on a mispredicted branch; and

determining whether one or more of the plurality of uops belong to a branch path that is dependent on the mispredicted branch based on their assigned IDs.

The Board ruled as follows:

The Appellants argue that “the cited claim language as a whole explicitly requires that a separate ID is assigned ‘to each of a plurality of micro-operations (uops)’ (emphasis added).” (Reply Br. 2.) “[T]he PTO gives claims their ‘broadest reasonable interpretation.'” In re Bigio, 381 F.3d 1320, 1324 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (quoting In re Hyatt, 211 F.3d 1367, 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2000)). “Moreover, limitations are not to be read into the claims from the specification.” In re Van Geuns, 988 F.2d 1181, 1184 (Fed. Cir. 1993) (citing In re Zletz, 893 F.2d 319, 321 (Fed. Cir. 1989)).


Here, claim 1 does not require that the ID assigned to each microoperation be “separate.” i.e., unique. We refuse to read such a requirement into the representative claim. Assigning the same ID to each microoperation in one of the reference’s instruction streams is enough to anticipate the disputed limitations. Based on the aforementioned facts and analysis, therefore, we conclude that the Examiner did not err in finding that Sharangpani assigns an ID to each of a plurality of micro-operations as required by representative claim 1.

For other issues that arise from use of the word “each,” see these previous posts: [Link] and [Link].

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