Ex parte MIMEUR et al. - Page 5




          Appeal No. 96-0987                                                          
          Application No. 08/226,467                                                  


                    Turning to the examiner's rejections of the claims on             
          appeal under 35 U.S.C.  103, we note that normally when                    
          substantial confusion exists as to the interpretation of the                
          claims and no reasonably definite meaning can be ascribed to                
          terms in the claim, a determination as to the issue of                      
          obviousness is not made.  See In re Steele, 305 F.2d 859, 863,              
          134 USPQ 292, 295 (CCPA 1962) and In re Wilson, 424 F.2d 1382,              
          1385, 165 USPQ 494, 496 (CCPA 1970).  However, in this instance,            
          we consider it to be desirable to address this issue in order to            
          avoid the inefficiency of piecemeal appellate review.  See Ex               
          parte Ionescu, 222 USPQ 537, 540 (Bd. App. 1984).  Therefore, we            
          have reached the determination below with respect to the issue of           
          obviousness of the claims on appeal in the interest of judicial             
          economy.  In order to reach the question of obviousness with                
          respect to the claims on appeal, we have necessarily applied the            
          interpretation to appealed claim 8 that it is a product-by-                 
          process claim reciting the layer of viscoelastic resin coated on            
          the internal surface of the impact wall by molding using a                  
          reaction molding process which necessarily requires the                     
          viscoelastic resin be capable of being molded in a reaction                 
          injection molding process.  We believe this interpretation to be            



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