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For the doctrine of equivalents, “an essential part” of the patented invention is the part of the claim that embodies the specific technical idea that distinguishes the patented invention from the prior art. An essential part shall be determined based upon the claim and the description, especially in consideration of a comparison with the prior art and the extent to which the patented invention has contributed thereto.
“Special circumstances” that speak against the inclusion of equivalents in the scope of protection shall not be affirmed only because a person skilled in the art could have easily conceived the alternative constituent features at the filling date and the applicant did not describe them in the specification. However, they can be affirmed where an applicant, from an objective and external point of view, is considered to have recognized that such alternative features could replace the claimed invention at the filling date.