Case Law Review – T 1359/08



Claimed Subject Matter:

Versioning of elements in a configuration model

A method for defining a configuration model for a configurable product and for updating subcomponents thereof. As explained in the description, a “configuration model is generally some collection of … information that is needed to configure the product” (see p. 2, section 0003). The configuration model includes components, subcomponents, and elements which define characteristics of the product as for example prices, costs, colours etc (see p. 3, section 0011 ff.).


Defining a configuration model and its components and subcomponents is thus a form of information modelling, which is, as such, not an invention for the purposes of Article 52(1) EPC (cf decision T 49/99 – Information modelling/INTERNATIONAL COMPUTERS, not published; retrievable from URL: t990049eu1.pdf). The same holds for the management of information models during their life cycle. In general, abstract activities in the field of information management are per se not patentable, and to the extent that they do not interact with technical features to contribute to the technical solution of a technical problem they cannot establish novelty or inventive step (for a summary of the relevant case law, see the EPO-publication “Case Law of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office”, sixth edition, European Patent Office, July 2010, chapter I.D.8.1.).

All features in claim 1, except for the general computer-implementation of the method, concern abstract processes of information management in the context of defining and updating a configuration model. In particular, setting versions of the model to an active or inactive state is primarily part of the abstract concept of managing the update process and not per se a genuine technical feature of the computer implementation.

The present application does not provide any specific information about the computer implementation of the method at all. Even from the drawings, no details of the implementation can be derived. Only from the acknowledgement of the background art and from general statements at the end of the application, starting with section 0067, can it be understood that the computer implementation is a possibility for carrying out the invention.

Considering that the application is confined to disclosing abstract concepts of information management rather than setting out a practical computer implementation, the Board concludes that a technical interpretation of the said features of the second auxiliary request would be inappropriate. The board judges that these features do not support inventive step.

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