10th jan, 2012

From the EPO appeal treasure chest

 It has been a long time since I gave the EPO appeal decisions a closer look so today I browsed thru some of the last quarter decisions from the Boards of Appeal. And as always I found some interesting stuff – all about information.

 In T 1086/07 Xerox had applied for a patent for a “Method and system for generating document summaries with navigation information”. The patent was rejected and appealed. The BoA decided that the patent application was relating to presentation of information and therefore not patentable.  Even though the BoA scolds the patent office a bit they clearly state that the claimed invention has no technical contribution and even if it did it would be obvious to a skilled person.

The Board reached the same conclusion in T 1235/07 where Microsoft tried to patent “NAVIGATING DATA POINTS IN A MULTIDIMENSIONAL DATABASE”. The application is in its essence about sorting customer data by different dimensions and is of course rejected by both the EPO and the BoA. The EPO rejects the application due to obviousness but is corrected by the BoA which points out that what is sought patented is merely a presentation of information. And comes the part that I really love about this decision: The BoA does not stop by referring to a general point about presentation of information but digs out the travaux préparatoires from the 1970 Washington Conference (PCT) to document their opinion. That is an awesome move, and exactly why I love the legal profession.

Yet another decision tree type application was considered in T 0844/07 where Computer Associates tried to patent “DIRECTORY SEARCHING METHODS AND SYSTEMS” – unsuccessfully. The claims in the application are long and seems – even to me – trivial. As the BoA says “The essential idea of the invention was the realisation that a more efficient search could be achieved by providing further searchable forms of attribute values in a second table, each additional form having a component identifier that could be specified in the search instruction.” This time the application is not denied because of “presentation of information” concerns but because of a lack of inventive step.

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