Case Law Review – T 907/09

Case:

T 907/09

Claimed Subject Matter:

Valuation of a futures contract.

The application relates to data processing systems and methods for assessing the failure risk of a bundle of constructs that may individually fail. A resource amount is determined so as to counterbalance the failure risk when it is transferred. The risk assuming entity receives the resource amount.

Comments:

The claimed system is defined functionally in terms of means for storing and processing spread values and for continuously calculating a resource amount which reflects a value of a futures contract (which is based on a basket of credit default swaps). The claim is not limited to a technical field of application; on the contrary, its final paragraph emphasises a commercial goal.

The Board does not see any technical effect in knowing the resource amount or failure risk of a bundle of credit default swaps. The overall effect of the claimed system is that a mental, mathematical, commercial or administrative result is provided: What premium does the owner of the bundle have to offer so that another market participant is willing to take over the failure risk of the bundle?

Case Law Review – T 1741/08

Case:

T 1741/08

Claimed Subject Matter:

Graphical user interface (GUI) layout – in particular a method of entering of data into a data processing system.

Claim 1 relates to a method of entering data in a data processing system using a particular GUI. The layout of this GUI comprises two horizontally aligned linear sequences of icons. The second sequence is displayed for a selected icon of the first sequence. The leading icon of the second sequence is vertically aligned with the selected icon of the first sequence. In addition, one or more data entry fields are separately displayed for a selected icon of the second sequence.

Comments:

This case provides useful guidance on the patentability of GUIs, in particular whether lowering the cognitive burden of a user leads to a technical effect. There is useful commentary on many key GUI cases.

The claims differed from the prior art by what was displayed on a screen, i.e. the differences consisted solely of particularities of the GUI layout.

In the decision, the board agreed that a particular interface layout could indeed shorten the searching of an inexperienced user for where or what data to enter where. As a result, less computer resources may be used.

However, this reduction in use was caused by the way the brain of the user perceives and processes the visual information given by a particular way of presenting information. This was deemed to the mental or psychological realm and could not provide a technical effect directly.

The board noted that not everything that supports a technical task has itself a technical character. For example, the advice to have a good night’s rest in order to make searching images more “efficient” would not have technical character. A chain of reasoning that held that the layout produces a psychological effect on the user and the user produces a technical effect on the computer was different from saying that the layout produces a technical effect on the computer.

The board also confirmed that in each of T 643/00, T 928/03 and T 333/95 a specific technical effect had been identified by the boards, which made these cases exceptional. In these exceptional cases, there was something other than the simple choice of what information to display and with what layout to display it, which meant that the displayed information could play a part in the assessment of inventive step.

Case Law Review – T 629/11

Case:

T 629/11

Claimed Subject Matter:

Personalization of data services.

The invention concerns the presentation of information in an Internet browser, and the management of the information and the way it is presented, so as to evoke a desired response in the user.

Comments:

The method as claimed was deemed prima facie not excluded from patentability because it modified “Internet browser pages”.

However, the underlying method was deemed to be a means of manipulating information and its presentation, in order to affect the perceptions or behaviour of users.

As such the underlying method was not technical. Instead, it was more appropriately classified as a form of applied psychology, and the field of application might be, for example, advertising or education. As such, being non-technical, it could not contribute to inventive step. Any remaining technical features related simply to the provision of information on an Internet browser page, which was well-known.

Case Law Review – T 1097/06

Case:

T_1097/06

Claimed Subject Matter:

A computer-based system and method for detecting risks.

A specific object of the invention is to provide a computer-based system and method for detecting risks emerging in geographical areas without having to collect measurements of risk indicators in all of the geographical areas (A1 publication, paragraph [0004], last sentence).

Comments:

Side steps inventive step issues raised in examination by refusing application for lacking novelty over the prior art.