What is claimed is:
1. A locating and clamping assembly comprising:
a body defining an internal cavity and an opening from said cavity to the exterior of said body;
a locating pin disposed in said cavity and extending along an axis A out of said opening to a distal end;
an actuator for moving said locating pin rectilinearly along said axis A into and out of said opening;
at least one finger supported by said locating pin adjacent said distal end;
said assembly characterized by a mechanism for moving said finger along a straight line into and out of said locating pin perpendicular to said axis A in response to said rectilinear movement of said locating pin.
(注2) Lighting World, 382 F.3d at 1360
In light of the principles discussed above, it is not surprising that we have seldom held that a limitation not using the term "means" must be considered to be in means-plus-function form. In fact, we have identified only one published opinion since Greenberg in which we have done so, and that case provides a useful illustration of how unusual the circumstances must be to overcome the presumption that a limitation lacking the word "means" is not in means-plus-function form.
Thus, the unadorned term “mechanism” is “simply a nonce word or a verbal construct that is not recognized as the name of structure and is simply a substitute for the term ‘means for.’” Lighting World, 382 F.3d at 1360.
Means-Plus-Function Fools Gold (from PatentlyO)
Welker Bearing v. PhD, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2008)
Mechanism For: Welker's patent claims a clamping mechanism for holding parts in place when welding. The appeal focuses on construction of a "mechanism for moving said finger." Affirming a prior similar ruling, the Federal Circuit found that the claim structure "mechanism for [performing a function]" is presumptively interpreted as a means-plus-function claim element.
"The term 'mechanism' standing alone connotes no more structure than the term 'means.'" Quoting MIT v. Abacus Software, 462 F.3d 1344 (Fed. Cir. 2006).
Instead of claiming a "mechanism for moving said finger," the patentee could have claimed a "finger displacement mechanism." Opining on that counterfactual, the Federal Circuit noted that it would not have presumed a means-plus-function construction."If claim 1 … had recited, e.g., a "finger displacement mechanism," a "lateral projection/retraction mechanism," or even a "clamping finger actuator," this court could have inquired beyond the vague term "mechanism" to discern the understanding of one of skill in the art...(more)
mechanism for moving said finger along a straight line into and out of said locating pin.. (from US6,913,254 claim1)
"finger displacement mechanism," a "lateral projection/retraction mechanism," or even a "clamping finger actuator,"