Case Law Review – T 1954/08

Case:

T 1954/08

Claimed Subject Matter:

Predicting marketing campaigns using customer-specific response probabilities and response values (SAP).

The application seeks to improve on iterative algorithms which have been used to find a global maximum of a goal value of an envisaged marketing campaign. The iteration represents a “simulation” of the marketing campaign.

 Comments:

The use of computers for automation purposes is technical but commonplace.

A mathematical algorithm may become a technical means, i.e. it may go beyond a mere mathematical contribution, if it serves a technical purpose (T 1227/05-points 3.1 / 3.2).

Anticipating a maximum revenue or profit value of a marketing campaign is a commercial rather than a technical purpose. Therefore, the iterative mathematical algorithm of claim 1 remains a mere mathematical contribution which does not enter into the examination for an inventive step.

The Board agrees that the mathematical algorithm is not provided by the business manager who is only interested in an economic forecast on which he can base his decision for a marketing campaign.

However, the Board does not agree with the appellant’s conclusion that the algorithm is provided by the implementing programmer. In the absence of a technical overall effect and purpose, the algorithm is provided by a mathematician for mathematical and ultimately commercial purposes. Mathematical definitions do not become technical by defining commercial relationships.

In T 1227/05, point 3.2.5 it was held that processing speed was not a suitable criterion for distinguishing between technical and non-technical method steps since it was always possible to conceive of a slower algorithm than the one claimed. Similarly, the sole amount of memory a computer-implemented algorithm requires is equally unsuitable for determining whether or not a method step contributes to the solution of a technical problem since it is always possible to imagine an algorithm demanding more memory. Furthermore, whether or not an algorithm is similar to what a human being would do may play a role for the examination for inventive step, but this examination presupposes that the technicality of the feature has been established.

The Board concludes that the claimed method does not involve an inventive step over a general computerised method for processing data according to any existing mathematical algorithm and, thus, does not meet the requirements of inventive step.

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