Trivial features

Almost every claim comprises generic features that are so well-known that they are regarded as commonplace approaches which do not need written evidence to be proven not to involve an inventive step.

  • The mere wish to automate process steps that have previously been performed manually is usually reagarded as obvious. There may be automation details which naturally could be inventive, but if the detailed implementation is left to the skilled person, no inventive step is involved.
    (T 1616/08)
  • The generic steps of formatting and outputting results of a data processing exercise (to a human observer) reflects a commonplace approach (T 1806/07).
  • Adapting the size of a server system to the expected workload by assigning various tasks to different servers. As long as nothing is disclosed that would suggest that the assignement is based on technical considerations which might indeed involve an inventive step the mere agglomeration of a sufficient number of server is obvious (T 74/05).
  • Depending on availability and costs, subdividing a database in different sections for different data or even in a plurality of storage devices, e.g. as a distributed database was well-nown (= "notorious") at the priority date (1.6.2000). Hence, implementing a database by means of a plurality of databases (pre-paid services end-user usage information databases, customer profile databases) appears to be one of several straightforward desing possibilites which the skilled person would select in accordance with the circumstances without the exerrcise of inventive skill (T 591/08).
  • The wish to enhance a computer system that shows a selection of restaurants by adding the function to forward an order to one of the selected restaurants arises automatically with the repeated use of the computer system and will anyhow be requested by the users of the system. As it is in the economic interest of the provider of the computer system to guide the offers via his computer system to collect comissions there is no technical contribution (T 1930/06).
  • An automatic ordering system which takes into account availability information is obvious for a person skilled in the art as this an obvious result when the [manual] procedure of an offer is automated (T 1930/06).
  • A defining a new trade-off point [in addition to known trade-off points] at which searching speed is valued higher and memory cost lower than in the prior art (T 1351/04).
    In the mentioned case the Board of Appeal held that no trade-off existed since in prior art at the locations of an index tree proposed by the invention and therfore the new locationof a trade-off involved an inventive step.
  • Compare costs with a threshold, and perform different actions depending on the result. That is something any general purpose computer can do (T 0196/08).

Admitted Common General Knowledge

If features are not contested by the applicant then they will be regarded as admitted common general knowledge

For allowing dynamic reconfiguration of a MPEG device without interrupting the operation of the input processor the application proposed an active configuration table and a pending configuration table. The data to update the configuration of the MPEG device is written to the pending table and then the pending table is switched to be the active table and the active table becomes the pending table. Without further written evidence the examining division argued that "ping-pong" memory architectures were commonly known for increasing the throughput of data streams in different technical fields and refused the application due to lack of inventive step. The Board of appeal confirmed this decision arguing that "ping-pong" memory architectures are so widely known that the skilled person would have contemplated their use in any filed where a fast memory update is desirable. The Board of Appeal agreed with the applicant that in case of any dispute as to the extent of the relevant knwoledge this, like any other fact under contention, has to be proved, for instance by documentary or oral evidence. In the present case the applicant , according to the minutes of the oral proceedings held before the examining division, had accepted that conventional structures known as "double-buffering" or "ping-pong" memory architectures might be used to increase the throughput of data streams. The Board of appeal thus deduced that the applicant did not dispute that a "ping-pong" memory architecture and its benefit were common general knowledge (T 0811/06).

Functional Data

The processing of data is a basic function of a computer. In case the processed data provides a further technical effect an invention will be eligible for patent protection. Therefore the EPO in some cases distinguishes between data which encodes cognitive content, e.g. a picture, in a standard manner and functional data defined in terms which inherently comprise the technical feature of a (patentable) system. (T 1194/97). The test if data is functional is to assess if the data has an effect on the technical working of the system. A loss of cognitive data, for example the data that encodes a picture in a television signal, will only affect what a human is able to see, even if the televsion apparatus only produces "snow", while loss of functional data, e.g. a synchronization signal, will impair the technical operation and in the limit bring the system to a complete halt. Therfore the board of appeal saw no reason to ascribe less technical character to a synchronisation signal recorded as digital data, e.g. a predetermined binary string, than to an analog synchronisation signal transitted or recorded as a pulse having a distinctive shape.

Granted Patents in the field of data processing

EP 0 209 907 B1 "Computer Sytem for independent types of management ..." SOHEI

In the prior art several computer implemented management systems were known, where data had to be inout speperately for each management system. The aim of the present invention was to use only one input mask for the several management systems. This aim is achieved by saving the input data in a journalized daybook file from which the relevant portion of data is apllied according to item codes and commodity codes to update four other data bases which are part of a financial management system and a inventory management system.

The main claim spans over two pages and is restricted to a financial management system and a inventory management sysem.

EP 1 440 423 B1 - Electronic Payment Orders (SAP)

A method for a computer implemented processing of electronic payment orders was held to imply an inventive step for the following differences over the prior art:

  • input data is split into data necessary for the processing of a payment order and in data that is not necessary for the processing of a payment order
  • the payment order data is converted into a uniform meta format for the processing in a payment engine
  • the data not necessary for the payment order is stored together with a link information in a data base
  • automatically generated data for a payment order is transferred to a output manger, the output manger converts the data into a target format and adds the data that was temporarily stored in the data base.

(T 0971/07 Electronic payment orders/SAP)