16th jun, 2012

Recent EPO BoA cases – Business methods, inventive step and prior art

Another trek down the EPO Board of Appeal decisions has revealed three interesting cases. Business methods, inventive step and prior publication are the subjects.
Business methods (T 0634/08)
Accenture applied for a patent for “Distributed transaction event matching” – whatever that is. The application was rejected because of lack of a technical problem – being only a business method. The application is written in a vague non-technical language typical of means plus function patents. The BoA naturally confirms the rejection of this absurd patent since the innovation is mainly related to commercial or administrative objective.
Inventive step (T 1769/07)
Hewlett-Packard applied for a patent for a method of automated support for the functions of a travel agent. The BoA states that “The invention is essentially a method that integrates and manages the information from the various reservation systems, the employers (businesses) and the customers into a single database and system.” And “the Board judges that storing retrieved data locally in the database is an obvious possibility that the skilled person would consider depending on the circumstances, e.g. whether the user might want to see the data again.”
Therefore the rejection of the application is confirmed.
Prior publication

Hydro-Quebec filed an application for a patent. Just around the filing date of a patent application an article was published in a scientific magazine and recived by public libraries. BoA states that “The reception and date stamping of an incoming document by a staff member of a public library makes the document available to the public.” Therefore the invention was not considered novel.

 The cases might not be spectacular, but they confirm the direction of current case law, and makes good reading.

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