On 1 December 2016, Mars filed Australian patent application no. 2016365338 (the Application) for a composition which modifies a final food aroma to mimic the aroma of chocolate crumb powder.
Claim 1 of the Application is directed to a chocolate composition that has two parts, namely;
(a) dry milk chocolate, which is milk chocolate made with milk powder and without chocolate crumb powder or without the crumb process; and
(b) an extraneous flavour composition that includes at least the nine recited odorants and provides an overall aroma of crumb chocolate, a creamy aroma of crumb chocolate, or an overall aroma and creaminess of crumb chocolate.
The application was opposed by Kraft. In their statement of grounds and particulars, Kraft made many allegations.
This article will consider Kraft’s allegation that claim 1 of the Application does not reflect the results described in the specification (i.e. that claim 1 was not supported) due to “glaring inconsistencies in the data and the interpretation of the results.”
A comparison between the invention described in the claims and the specification was undertaken to determine whether the claims were supported by the disclosure in the description when read by a person skilled in the art.
In asserting a lack of support, the Opponent relied upon evidence from three independent food scientists. The Applicant relied on evidence from Dr Dizbalis, a flavour scientist from Mars and an inventor on the present application.
Interestingly, relying on evidence and the merits of such evidence where the evidence is adduced from someone who is also an inventor of the application in question was not considered by the Delegate.
The patent application outlined that determining the compounds for inclusion in claim 1 involved three key experiments. We summarise the goal of each of these experiments in the table below.
In the decision, the Delegate held that the apparent inconsistencies in individual results for a particular odorant simply indicates there are limitations in the analytical techniques used. The Delegate considered that any apparent inconsistencies in the empirical data do not provide sufficient basis to find the claims lack support.
In reaching this conclusion, the Delegate noted that the specification gives more weight and importance to human sensory testing when selecting the key compounds that significantly contribute to an overall aroma of crumb chocolate, a creamy aroma of crumb chocolate or an overall aroma and creaminess of crumb chocolate.
This raises the question of why Mars invested 10 years of research into steps 1 and 2 when what would ultimately be given weight for the patent application was the information discerned from step 3.
Regardless, this decision gives us helpful insight into support requirements and is a reminder to ensure that your patent description also includes discussion as to why certain integers may be selected for inclusion in the claims over other integers.
Book a free consultation with the expert team at Kings today to ensure that your patent application fulfils the support requirements to be properly protected.
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