Patentability: no computer program ‘as such’

Print this page 28-02-2006
IPPT20060223, TBA-EPO, Microsoft

PATENT LAW

 

Patentability: no computer program ‘as such’. A computer system including a memory (clipboard) is a technical means, and consequently the claimed method has technical character in accordance with established case law. Moreover, the Board would like to emphasise that a method implemented in a computer system represents a sequence of steps actually performed and achieving an effect, and not a sequence of computer-executable instructions (i.e. a computer program) which just have the potential of achieving such an effect when loaded into, and run on, a computer.

 

"5.1 The Board concurs with the appellant in consider-ing the claimed method as an invention within the meaning of Article 52(1) EPC. Claim 1 relates to a method implemented in a computer system. T 258/03 - Auction method/Hitachi (OJ EPO 2004, 575) states that a method using technical means is an invention within the meaning of Article 52(1) EPC. A computer system including a memory (clipboard) is a technical means, and consequently the claimed method has technical character in accordance with established case law. Moreover, the Board would like to emphasise that a method implemented in a computer system represents a sequence of steps actually performed and achieving an effect, and not a sequence of computer-executable in-structions (i.e. a computer program) which just have the potential of achieving such an effect when loaded into, and run on, a computer. Thus, the Board holds that the claim category of a computer-implemented method is distinguished from that of a computer program. Even though a method, in particular a method of operating a computer, may be put into practice with the help of a computer program, a claim relating to such a method does not claim a computer program in the category of a computer program. Hence, present claim 1 cannot re-late to a computer program as such."


"5.2 The Board also considers the claimed method steps to contribute to the technical character of the invention. These steps solve a technical problem by technical means in that functional data structures (clipboard for-mats) are used independently of any cognitive content (see T 1194/97 - Data structure product/Philips; OJ EPO 2000, 525) in order to enhance the internal opera-tion of a computer system with a view to facilitating the exchange of data among various application programs. The claimed steps thus provide a general purpose com-puter with a further functionality: the computer assists the user in transferring non-file data into files."


Computerreadable medium with computer-executable instructions that have the potential of achieving the abovementioned further technical effect of enhancing the internal operation of the computer, which goes beyond the elementary interaction of any hardware and software of data processing

 

"5.3 Claim 5 is directed to a computer-readable medium having computer-executable instructions (i.e. a com-puter program) on it to cause the computer system to perform the claimed method. The subject-matter of claim 5 has technical character since it relates to a computer-readable medium, i.e. a technical product in-volving a carrier (see decision T 258/03 – Auction method/Hitachi cited above). Moreover, the computer-executable instructions have the potential of achieving the above-mentioned further technical effect of enhanc-ing the internal operation of the computer, which goes beyond the elementary interaction of any hardware and software of data processing (see T 1173/97 - Computer program product/IBM; OJ EPO 1999, 609). The com-puter program recorded on the medium is therefore not considered to be a computer program as such, and thus also contributes to the technical character of the claimed subject-matter."

 

IPPT20060223, TBA-EPO, Microsoft

 

T 0424/03 - 3.5.01