Ex parte DOWNS - Page 4

          Appeal No. 95-3273                                                          
          Application 08/136,856                                                      

                    electrodes) forming a sandwich element; a solid, flat,            
                    inflexible substrate laminated to the piezoelectric               
                    sandwich element (substrate 20 containing aluminum                
                    layers 34 and 35 with damping layer therebetween)                 
                    substantially the entire surface of one of the two                
                    conductive layers; and two connecting connectors (91              
                    and 92, see Fig. 12A-12C).                                        
                    The only point in dispute is whether Geil's substrate             
          20 satisfies the requirement of claim 1 (and claims 10 and 11)              
          that the substrate be "substantially inflexible."  Appellant                
          argues (Brief at 12) that this term precludes the ability to be             
          bent to conform to the curve of a boat hull, as shown in Geil's             
          Figure 8, or the ability to bend in response to incident acoustic           
          energy, as is the case with Geil's substrate (col. 4, lines 64-             
          68).  We do not agree.  The term "substantially inflexible" is              
          not defined in appellant's specification and therefore must be              
          given the broadest reasonable interpretation consistent with                
          appellant's disclosure.  In re Zletz, 893 F.2d 319, 321,                    
          13 USPQ2d 1320, 1322 (Fed. Cir. 1989) (citing In re Prater,                 
          415 F.2d 1393, 1404-05, 162 USPQ 541, 550-51 (CCPA 1969)).  The             
          only disclosed example of a material suitable for use as the                
          substrate is "a piece of printed circuit board material" (Spec.             
          at 6, lines 16-18), whose material, thickness, and degree of                
          stiffness are not disclosed.  However, the specification states             
          that "[t]he microphone can be molded into different shapes since            


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