Case Law Review – T 2090/08



Claimed Subject Matter:

Method and system for transferring or returning unused digital rights.

The independent claims of the main request differ from the disclosure of the prior art (D1) by the following features:

    1. The procedure according to D1 requires manual user intervention to store the licence on a floppy disk and to install it on the second device, whereas the transfer procedure according to the claimed invention is automatic and runs under the control of the server. More specifically, the claimed procedure involves a request message from the first terminal to the server, identifying inter alia the second machine to which the rights object is to be transferred, and a response message from the server to the first terminal after succesful transfer of the rights object.
    2. The system of D1 does not provide the first device with selection options when the transfer fails.
    3. D1 does not disclose that a revoked license, i.e. the rights object, is deleted from the first terminal, let alone in response to a response message indicating successful transfer of the license.


In the board’s judgment, differences 1)-3) solve the following problems:

    1. Difference 1) makes the relicensing procedure of D1 more convenient for the end user by avoiding the need for a manual transfer of the license.
    2. Difference 2) handles the possible failure of the relicensing procedure at the second terminal.
    3. Difference 3) saves storage on the first machine by deleting a revoked license. The board considers that these problems arise naturally in the context of D1.

The board considers it obvious to provide a protocol according to which the first end user’s machine and the license clearing house, i.e. the server, communicate using a “request message” which, inter alia, identifies the “second machine” to the license clearing house, and wherein a “response message” is used which acknowledges this request to the first machine and confirms successful receipt of the license.

The problem to contain, control or reduce storage consumption is one that, in the board’s view, a person skilled in software development is always aware of. The board therefore deems obvious the idea that any unused data object – such as, in D1, a revoked license – should, at some point, be deleted from the end user’s machine. It is also obvious for the skilled person that the unused data object can be deleted as soon as possible or at later point in time. In order to choose between these alternatives the skilled person would have to assess the circumstances and weigh the requirements against each other, including, e.g., whether storage consumption is critical and whether it is likely that a deleted object may be needed again later (see point 5 above). In the board’s view, the skilled person would make this assessment and choice as a matter of routine and with out exercising an inventive step.

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