Jurisprudence récente US: Question: “a” = “un ou plusieurs”? Réponse de la cour: “Pas toujours”

Dans l’affaire Eliyahou Harari et al. v. Roger Le, le Federal Circuit devait déterminer si la portée du terme “a” dans une revendication pouvait correspondre à la fois à un élément singulier ou pluriel.

Voici la réponse de la Cour:

Harari’s arguments rely on our rule that the indefinite article “a” means “ ‘one or more’ in open-ended claims containing the transitional phrase ‘comprising.’ “ Lee Appellant’s Br. 21 (quoting Baldwin Graphic Sys., Inc. v. Siebert, Inc., 512 F.3d 1338, 1342 (Fed.Cir.2008)). In Baldwin, we construed a claim reciting a system comprising “a pre-soaked fabric roll” and a “means for locating said fabric roll.” 512 F.3d at 1340. We concluded that the claim encompassed systems with more than one fabric roll. Id. at 1343.

Baldwin, however, does not set a hard and fast rule that “a” always means one or more than one. Instead, we read the limitation in light of the claim and specification to discern its meaning. Insituform Techs., Inc. v. Cat Contracting, Inc., 99 F .3d 1098, 1105–06 (Fed.Cir.1996) (analyzing the “claims, specification and file history” to determine that “a vacuum cup” means one and only one vacuum cup). When the claim language and specification indicate that “a” means one and only one, it is appropriate to construe it as such even in the context of an open-ended “comprising” claim.

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