Ex parte MACLEOD et al. - Page 11

               Appeal No. 98-0816                                                                                                  
               Application 08/286,287                                                                                              

               attaching function, whereas appellants’ disclosure employs a retaining ring, an elastic washer, and an              

               axially-extending spindle hub portion for attaching the back iron against the radially-extending end wall           

               portion of the spindle hub.  The combination of these three elements as taught by appellants achieves               

               the important function of compressing the back iron in the axial direction in order to hold it in place             

               without the use of adhesives.  The main issue before us then, is whether or not appellants’ claim 35                

               would have been obvious over Connors in view of the applied secondary references to Schuh and                       


                       The examiner rejects claim 35 (see Answer, pages 21 to 24) over Connors (as teaching a disc                 

               drive) in view of Schuh (as teaching a retaining ring) and Hoyer-Ellefsen (as teaching an elastic washer),          

               stating "that use of a retainer ring and an elastic washer would have been obvious" (Answer, page 23),              

               and "would have resulted in structure equivalent to that set forth in the present application as                    

               corresponding to the ‘means for attaching . . .’ language in question" (Answer, page 24).   We cannot               

               agree with this reasoning.  As stated by appellants at pages 11 to 12 of the Brief, an analysis of the              

               corresponding structure of the means-plus-function language at issue here, the "means for attaching . . ."          

               found in claim 35, requires the following structure in order to achieve the claimed function: a retaining           

               ring, a compressed elastic washer, and a spindle hub having a disc receiving portion extending axially              

               from a radially extending end wall portion to a recess for the retaining ring.  This structure, along with its      

               attendant function as recited in claim 35 and disclosed in the specification, is not met by any                     

               combination of the references applied by the examiner.                                                              


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