Claimed Subject Matter:
Global Electronic Trading System.
The claimed invention in this case comprised a computer network consisting of trader terminals, a central server, and a communications network, each with particular properties.
The board stated that, rather than decide whether the invention was a superior trading system to any previously known system, they were concerned with whether a technical realisation in terms of terminals and server was obvious.
In the reasoning it was submitted that there may be two ways in which a skilled person might arrive at a particular technical implementation of a non-technical system:
- they might start from a specification of the non-technical system and seek a technical realisation; or
- alternatively they might start from some prior art technical realisation of a similar technical system and modify it.
If either of those paths would have been obvious at the priority date, there would have been no inventive step.
The central server in the claim was argued by the appellant to provide a technical effect by reducing network traffic. However, the board disagreed. They submitted that the non-technical trading system required a central agent. This constraint would be given to the skilled person, for example as a “requirements specification”. It would then be obvious for the skilled person to implement the said central agent using a central server. Even if there was shown to be less communication between traders, this was seen as a property of a non-technical arrangement, rather than a technical property associated with a technical implementation.