Delta Patents

T 0396/14 - Meaningful interpretation of claim by skilled person

Delta Patents Patent Law -

What is the upper end of this range?

Granted claim 1 in this case contains the step 'positioning an upper end of the retransmission window'. Unfortunately, the description does not contain a clear definition of what the upper end is, and in fact the term only occurs a few times in the summary of the invention. Furthermore, with a (according to the opposition division) conventional understanding of the upper end, the claims would not work. The granted claims were then revoked for being insufficiently disclosed. 
The board gives more credit to the skilled person to come to a working embodiment that falls under the terms of the claims, then the opposition division did. 

Reasons for the Decision
(...)
2. Main request - Article 83 EPC
2.1 The breakdown of granted claim 1 into features A - F and the breakdown of granted claim 2 into features G - M, used throughout the opposition and appeal proceedings (see in particular the opponent's letter of 3 September 2014), will be used in the following.
2.2 The opposition division has found that claim 1 of the main request and consequently the main request as a whole did not meet the requirements of Article 83 EPC. The reasons given in the decision under appeal were in substance that the skilled person would not be able to carry out the invention defined in claim 1, because the teaching of the description in respect of the wording "upper end of the retransmission window" was in contradiction with what was stated in that claim. According to the opposition division, the general understanding was that the "upper end" of a sliding window in HARQ protocols corresponded to a sequence number transmitted later in time, and that a retransmission or receiving window was moved in the ascending direction, i.e. to positions corresponding to higher sequence numbers. The skilled person would read the description and the claims having only this interpretation in mind (Reasons 11.2). Further, according to the opposition division, there was no hint in the patent to think that a different understanding of lower end corresponding to lower sequence numbers, i.e. numbers having a smaller value than higher numbers, and of upper end corresponding to higher sequence numbers, was applicable (Reasons 11.3). Still further, according to the opposition division, the embodiment described with respect to the transmitter window was inconsistent with claim 1 (Reasons 11.4), whereas the embodiment described with respect to the receiver window supported the opposition division's understanding of "upper end" (Reasons 11.5). Lastly, according to the opposition division, the terms used in the patent document should be given their normal meaning in the relevant art unless the description gave them a special meaning, which was not the case here. Thus, according to the opposition division, the skilled person had to apply the same general and common interpretation to both windows, namely that the "upper end" of both the retransmission and the receiving window was associated with the data unit last transmitted or received (Reasons 11.7 and 11.8).
2.3 The board however agrees with the proprietor that the description and drawings disclose the invention defined in claim 1, in particular feature E, in a manner sufficiently clear and complete for it to be carried out by a skilled person.
Firstly, there is no explicit definition of the term "upper end" for a retransmission window since this term appears only once in the description in a passage summarising claim 1 ([0018]). It is also clear that a simple definition based on the sequence numbers of the data units present in the window is not possible, due to the repetitive nature of the modulo-N numbering. Similarly, a definition based on the position of a data unit at the top of a vertical representation of the retransmission window, as shown in Figures 5A and 8A, would be unsatisfactory since the figures could be turned to represent the retransmission window horizontally or in the other vertical direction without changing the technical teaching of the description. Therefore neither the general understanding of the skilled person nor the description and drawings limit the meaning of an "upper end" of a retransmission window to the highest sequence number in the window or the top of the window when represented in the vertical direction along the time line.
Even more to the point, the meaning of the term "upper end" in respect of a retransmission window is to be determined on the basis of the whole technical teaching of the patent, including the claims, description and drawings. The skilled person trying to carry out the invention in respect of the claimed retransmission window has to determine which end of the window is to be regarded technically as the "upper end" in the disclosure of the patent. Figure 6 and the corresponding paragraphs [0031] to [0033] show that, when the most recently transmitted sequence number is SN, the retransmission window permits only retransmission of data units having a sequence number between SN minus the window size and SN (see for instance step 64 in Figure 6 where SN = 4 and the window of size 4 comprises the numbers 1 to 4). Similarly, Figure 8A and the corresponding paragraph [0037] show that at time t1 the most recently transmitted data unit has the sequence number SN = 7 and the retransmission window of size 4 permits the retransmission of data units having a sequence number between 2 and 5, i.e. an end of the window of size 4 is positioned at a sequence number which is less than SN minus the window size. It is thus clear from the description passages and figures related to the retransmission window that the "upper end" in claim 1 corresponds to the sequence number which should have been transmitted earliest in time and which is usually, but not necessarily, due to the modulo-N numbering, the lowest sequence number of the window, as in the illustrated embodiments of Figures 6 and 8A.
The board is convinced that the above understanding of the term "upper end" in the context of the retransmission window in independent claim 1 is the only one which makes technical sense for the skilled person, taking into account the whole disclosure of the patent with respect to the retransmission. The fact that the term "upper end" has a different meaning with respect to a receiving window in independent claim 2 does not affect the above reasoning, since the two claimed methods operate independently of each other, even if they may be implemented in the same transmission system. Contrary to the opponent's arguments based on the observation that claims 1 and 2 had not been challenged for non-unity, the board judges that claims 1 and 2 indeed do not define interrelated products in the sense of Rule 43(2)(a) EPC, since the positioning of the retransmission window is performed independently of the positioning of the receiving window.
The board further notes that the opposition division itself, by acknowledging in the decision that the description "leads to think that SN-window corresponds in fact to the lower end of the window, and SN to the upper end of the window" (Reasons 11.4), correctly understood claim 1 based on the description. The opposition division went on to assess novelty and inventive step with respect to the retransmission window, based on the amended claims according to the first auxiliary request. All this emphasises that a meaningful interpretation of the invention in respect of the retransmission window defined in claim 1, based on the whole disclosure, is readily possible for a person skilled in the art.
The opponent further argued that, due to the use of the expression "less than or equal to" when defining the positioning of the upper end of the retransmission window in claim 1, different positions of the retransmission window were possible, such that the technical teaching could not be achieved across the full scope of claim 1. The opposition division held that, in view of the wording "less than", it was impossible to avoid ambiguity (Reasons 11.9).
However, the board is persuaded that ambiguity is avoided due to the limited size of the retransmission window which is moved in time, and that different positions of the retransmission window are possible, as supported by paragraphs [0031] and [0032] of the patent specification and as argued by the patent proprietor.
For these reasons the board judges that claim 1 of the main request complies with Article 83 EPC.
(...)
This decision T396/13 (pdf) has European Case Law Identifier:  ECLI:EP:BA:2016:T039614.20161220. The file wrapper can be found here. Photo by Pexels via Pixabay under a CC0 license (no changes made). 

T 0625/11: How technical is determining a threshold value?

Delta Patents Patent Law -




In this appeal from the Examining Division the main question is whether the claimed method of determining a threshold value of an operational parameter of a nuclear reactor, based upon a simulation of the functioning of the reactor, is technical. The Examining Division recognised that the use of a computer made the claimed invention technical in the sense of Art. 52 EPC, but denied inventive step. Discussing the case law, including T 0641/00 (Comvik) and T 1227/05 (Infineon), the Board distinguishes two different approaches. The first approach requires including the functioning of the nuclear reactor to state the technical effect in the claim. The second approach, which is in line with T 1227/05, does not require stating the technical problem in the claim. The Board chooses the second approach and concludes that determining the value of a parameter gives the claim a technical character going beyond the simple interaction between the numerical interaction algorithm and the computer.


Exposé des faits et conclusions

I. Le recours fait suite à la décision de la division d'examen de rejeter la demande de brevet européen EP 03 775 483.5 au motif que l'objet des revendications 1 de la requête principale et de la requête subsidiaire n'impliquait pas d'activité inventive au sens de l'article 56 CBE 1973.

La décision de rejet a été notifiée à la demanderesse par courrier du 21 octobre 2010.

II. Dans la section dédiée aux "Motifs de la décision", la division d'examen a reconnu, à titre liminaire, que le "procédé de détermination par un système informatique d'au moins une valeur limite d'au moins un paramètre de fonctionnement d'un réacteur nucléaire", objet de la revendication 1 de la requête principale, n'était pas exclu de la brevetabilité en vertu des articles 52(2)(c) et 52(3) CBE, dans la mesure où la revendication précisait que ce procédé était mis en oeuvre par un système informatique.

Cependant, la division d'examen a refusé de reconnaître un quelconque caractère technique aux différentes étapes du procédé revendiqué dans la mesure où celles-ci se limitaient à des étapes de calcul et que le procédé revendiqué était dénué d'effet sur un objet technique, se limitant au calcul d'une valeur (cf. décision attaquée, page 3).

Ayant, en outre, constaté que les étapes du procédé revendiqué correspondaient à des étapes bien connues dans la conception de réacteurs nucléaires, la division d'examen a conclu que le procédé revendiqué n'incluait aucun enseignement technique allant au-delà de la pratique normale de la personne du métier dans le cadre de la conception de tels réacteurs.

En constatant l'absence d'application technique concrète du procédé revendiqué selon la requête principale, la division d'examen s'est écartée de l'approche retenue par la chambre de recours 3.5.01 en charge de l'affaire T 1227/05. Dans la décision du 13 décembre 2006 rendue dans cette affaire, la Chambre avait effectivement reconnu un caractère technique aux étapes d'un procédé de simulation numérique d'un circuit électronique soumis à un bruit. Ce caractère technique résultait, selon la Chambre, de l'objectif poursuivi par la simulation, alors même que cet objectif n'était pas reproduit dans la revendication considérée brevetable.

La division a également estimé que l'étape supplémentaire introduite dans la revendication 1 de la requête subsidiaire consistant à faire fonctionner le réacteur nucléaire en utilisant la valeur limite déterminée à l'étape précédente relevait de la pratique courante de l'homme métier et ne conférait donc aucun caractère inventif au procédé revendiqué.

[...]

XII. En ce qui concerne la requête principale, la revendication 1 s'énonce comme suit:

"1. Procédé de détermination par un système informatique d'au moins une valeur limite (tmax) d'au moins un premier paramètre (t, PLIN, P, DeltaI) de fonctionnement d'un réacteur nucléaire (1) comprenant un c½ur (2) dans lequel des assemblages combustibles (16) sont chargés, les assemblages combustibles (16) comprenant des crayons combustibles (24) comportant chacun des pastilles (36) de combustible nucléaire et une gaine (33) entourant les pastilles (36), caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend les étapes de:
b) simuler au moins un transitoire de fonctionnement du réacteur nucléaire (2),
c) calculer la valeur atteinte par une grandeur physique (sigmatheta) au cours du transitoire de fonctionnement dans au moins une gaine (33) d'un crayon combustible (24), et
d) déterminer, en tant que valeur limite, la valeur du premier paramètre de fonctionnement au moment où la valeur calculée à l'étape c) correspond à une valeur (sigmathetaRUP) de la grandeur physique caractérisant une rupture de la gaine (33)."

[...]

Motifs de la décision
6. Requête principale

Caractère technique (article 52(1) CBE)

La Chambre de recours en charge de l'affaire T 258/03 (JO OEB 2004, 575) a reconnu, à l'encontre de la jurisprudence qui prévalait antérieurement, qu'une revendication portant sur une méthode faisant intervenir des moyens techniques constituait une invention au sens de l'article 52(1) CBE (cf. Sommaire I). Selon cette décision, qui reflète la jurisprudence désormais en vigueur, le caractère technique d'une invention portant sur une méthode doit être apprécié indépendamment de la contribution de l'invention par rapport à l'état de la technique. Cette approche de type "absolu" de la technicité conduit à reconnaître un caractère technique à une revendication de procédé dès lors que l'usage de moyens techniques ressort de la formulation retenue.

Le procédé de détermination d'au moins une valeur limite d'un paramètre selon la revendication 1 de la requête principale est mis en oeuvre par un système informatique. La revendication remplit donc la condition énoncée dans la décision T 258/03. Ainsi, en écartant l'application des dispositions des articles 52(2) CBE et 52(3) CBE, l'usage d'un système informatique confère-t-il au procédé revendiqué la qualité d'invention au sens de l'article 52(1) CBE.

7. Requête principale

Activité inventive (article 56 CBE 1973)

7.1 La Chambre de recours en charge de l'affaire T 641/00 (JO OEB 2003, 352, point 6) a reconnu que "Lorsqu'une caractéristique ne peut être considérée comme contribuant à la solution d'un problème technique donné en produisant un effet technique, elle n'a aucune importance pour l'appréciation de l'activité inventive". La détermination d'un problème technique à résoudre n'est donc possible que si la Chambre reconnaît l'existence d'au moins un effet technique résultant d'au moins une caractéristique revendiquée.

De même que le recours à des moyens techniques confère un caractère technique à l'invention revendiquée, convient-il de reconnaître à une étape du procédé revendiqué un caractère technique dès lors que l'étape considérée fait elle aussi recours à de tels moyens techniques. En d'autres termes, l'utilisation de moyens de traitement automatique de données confère un caractère technique aux étapes du procédé qui y ont recours, le caractère technique résultant de l'interaction entre l'algorithme et les moyens informatiques (cf. T 471/05, point 4.1 ; T 1265/09, point 1.4 ; T 154/04, JO OEB 2008, 046, point 27).

Dans le cas d'espèce, la formulation de la revendication 1 de la requête principale ne laisse planer aucun doute sur le fait que les étapes b), c) et d) du procédé revendiqué sont effectuées par le système informatique auquel il est fait référence dans la revendication. Les étapes de la simulation dont il est fait état impliquent, en effet, la prise en compte d'un grand nombre de paramètres dont l'évolution au cours de transitoires de fonctionnement ne peut être établie de manière purement théorique. Ce constat vaut également pour des régimes transitoires élémentaires. En pratique, la simulation fera intervenir des modules de calcul par éléments finis qui, après que les conditions aux limites auront été précisées, procéderont à une détermination de proche en proche, spatiale et temporelle, de la valeur de chacun des paramètres à prendre en compte. Les calculs effectués auront pour objectif de modéliser l'évolution de ces paramètres (contrainte au sein des gaines, puissance, évolution temporelle du transitoire considéré, intensité des réaction au sein du combustible, pression, température...) au cours du transitoire de fonctionnement considéré.

Aussi, convient-il de reconnaître, au-delà du caractère technique reconnu à la revendication dans son ensemble, un caractère technique à chacune des étapes b), c) et d) du procédé revendiqué en raison du recours nécessaire aux ressources du système informatique.

En l'espèce, ce constat ne suffit pas à établir si le procédé revendiqué est inventif au sens de l'article 56 CBE ou non. En effet, comme il sera démontré ci-dessous, la conclusion relative à l'existence ou non d'une activité inventive dépendra de l'approche adoptée, selon que l'on estime, comme le fit la division d'examen, que les effets techniques du procédé sont limités à l'interaction du procédé de simulation revendiqué avec le système de traitement des données ou bien, au contraire, que l'on y intègre les aspects liés à la mise en oeuvre du procédé.

La Chambre s'est efforcée de comparer les arguments en faveur des approches envisageables en fonction de la jurisprudence existante et des arguments produits, respectivement, par la division d'examen et la requérante.

7.2 Première approche

7.2.1 Selon la Division d'Examen, aucune activité inventive ne saurait être reconnue à la mise en oeuvre de la simulation revendiquée par des moyens informatiques dès lors qu'il serait admis que cet aspect serait le seul à conférer un caractère technique au procédé de la revendication 1.

7.2.2 La Chambre est elle-aussi de l'avis qu'aucune des étapes b), c) ou d) du procédé revendiqué n'exige le recours à un système informatique particulier, c'est-à-dire à un système informatique dont l'architecture aurait été conçue spécialement pour la simulation envisagée, ou fonctionnant selon un mode particulier. En effet, la simulation résultera de l'installation dans un système à la capacité de calcul suffisante d'un algorithme constitué pour l'essentiel de modules de calculs par éléments finis et conçu à cet effet, sans requérir pour cela une quelconque adaptation du système informatique. De même, le procédé revendiqué n'affectera pas le fonctionnement interne du système informatique auquel il devra recourir pour sa mise en oeuvre.

Par conséquent, selon l'approche préconisée par la division d'examen, seul l'usage du système informatique pour mener à bien les étapes b), c) et d) du procédé de simulation serait alors à retenir au titre de caractéristique technique à prendre en compte dans le cadre de l'approche problème-solution.

7.2.3 Il n'en demeure pas moins, en vertu de la jurisprudence établie des chambres de recours, que lorsque la revendication se réfère à un but à atteindre dans un domaine non-technique, ce but peut légitimement être énoncé dans la formulation du problème en tant que cadre dans lequel s'inscrit le problème technique à résoudre, notamment en tant que contrainte à respecter (cf. T 641/00, JO 2003, 352, Sommaire, II).

En l'espèce, le problème technique à résoudre consisterait donc à mettre en oeuvre une méthode permettant de déterminer une valeur limite d'un paramètre de fonctionnement d'un réacteur nucléaire, la détermination incluant les étapes de :
b) simuler au moins un transitoire de fonctionnement du réacteur nucléaire,
c) calculer la valeur atteinte par une grandeur physique au cours du transitoire de fonctionnement, et
d) déterminer, en tant que valeur limite, la valeur d'un paramètre de fonctionnement au moment où la valeur calculée à l'étape c) correspond à une valeur critique de la grandeur physique.

7.2.4 Bien que déterministes, les phénomènes physiques, notamment thermomécaniques, en cause sont d'une complexité telle qu'elle rend impossible une résolution purement théorique du problème posé. De même, le volume de données à traiter et de calculs auxquels il faudra procéder pour parvenir à la détermination de la valeur limite recherchée exclut-il que ces calculs soient effectués sans l'assistance de moyens adaptés (cf. point 5.2 ci-dessus).

Aussi, la seule voie qui s'offre à l'homme du métier sera de recourir à un système informatique aux capacités de calcul suffisantes. Le recours à de tels systèmes afin de procéder à tout type de calculs est en soi bien connu et relève des connaissances générales de l'homme du métier. Cela est tout particulièrement vrai dans le domaine des réacteurs nucléaires. Plus concrètement, les documents EP-A-1 113 455 (D1) et EP-A-1 221 701 (D2) font état de tels moyens afin de procéder à la simulation de régimes transitoires au sein de réacteurs.

Par conséquent, il eût été évident pour l'homme du métier, notamment en l'absence de toute autre alternative, de recourir à de tels moyens informatiques pour résoudre le problème défini ci-dessus.

La non-prise en compte de la nature des données traitées ou du but poursuivi par le procédé revendiqué, selon l'hypothèse retenue ci-dessus au titre de la première approche, conduirait alors au constat selon lequel l'objet de la revendication 1 de la requête principale n'est pas inventif au sens de l'article 56 CBE.

7.2.5 La Chambre note, au-delà du cas d'espèce dont il est ici fait état, que l'approche suivie ci-dessus est a priori indépendante du domaine technique considéré et conduirait presque systématiquement au constat qu'un procédé revendiqué, qui se distinguerait de l'état de la technique uniquement en ce qu'il est automatisé, ne serait pas inventif. En effet, l'omniprésence des moyens informatiques dans tous les domaines technologiques conduirait presque invariablement au constat qu'un procédé dont le caractère technique résulte uniquement de l'emploi de moyens informatiques ne serait pas inventif dès lors que ces moyens n'auraient pas requis une adaptation de leur architecture ou de leur mode de fonctionnement (cf. T 1265/09, points 1.7 to 1.12; T 154/04, OJ OEB 2008, 046, points 24 to 28; T 258/03, OJ OEB 2004, 575, point 5.7).

7.2.6 L'approche développée ci-dessus pourrait trouver une justification dans le fait que le monopole d'exclusion qui serait conféré par le brevet, s'il était délivré sur la base de la requête principale, aurait vocation à s'étendre à tous les procédés reproduisant les étapes revendiquées, indépendamment de l'utilisation qui serait faite du résultat de la simulation. Reconnaître le bénéfice d'une activité inventive sur la base de la possible utilisation d'un procédé revendiqué dans le cadre d'une activité technique ou industrielle, non revendiquée, reviendrait donc à faire naître un monopole dont l'étendue dépasserait la contribution technique de l'invention, puisque s'étendant également à des activités de service non-industrielles.

Cette première approche conduirait donc à reprendre le point de vue exprimé dans la décision T 939/92 (JO OEB 1996, 309, cf. point 2.4.2) qui retient qu'en matière d'activité inventive :

"... en vertu d'un principe du droit universellement admis depuis longue date, l'étendue du monopole conféré par le brevet doit être fonction de la contribution qu'il constitue par rapport à l'état de la technique, cette contribution constituant la justification dudit monopole [...] Puisque, dans les deux décisions citées, c'est ce principe général du droit qui a été appliqué pour déterminer l'étendue de la protection qui se justifiait eu égard aux dispositions des articles 83 et 84 CBE, c'est ce même principe qui doit être appliqué pour l'appréciation de l'existence d'une activité inventive au sens de l'article 56 CBE ; en effet, tous les objets couverts par une revendication valable doivent impliquer une activité inventive. Si ce n'est pas le cas, la revendication doit être modifiée de manière à ce que les objets évidents en soient exclus, pour que le monopole conféré par le brevet soit justifié" (les caractères gras ont été ajoutés par la Chambre).

Aussi, dans l'affaire ayant conduit à la décision précitée, la chambre a-t-elle estimé que si l'effet allégué par l'objet revendiqué n'était pas crédible pour l'ensemble du domaine revendiqué, il convenait alors de retenir une formulation plus générale du problème à résoudre. C'est la position qui fut ultérieurement endossée par la Grande Chambre de Recours dans l'affaire G 1/03 (JO OEB 2004, 413, cf. point 2.5.2) en référence à la décision T 939/92.

La formulation du problème technique à résoudre doit donc, selon la décision T 939/92, reposer sur des effets ou résultats du procédé revendiqué valables pour l'ensemble des applications envisageables. L'exemple cité ci-dessus, relatif à la comparaison des performances de systèmes associant software et hardware, démontre qu'il ne serait alors pas justifié de définir le problème technique sur la base d'un éventuel contrôle d'un réacteur nucléaire, cet aspect n'étant pas revendiqué. L'exemple du procédé de simulation proposé à des fins pédagogiques, qui n'implique aucune utilisation industrielle de la valeur limite ainsi calculée, semble indiquer qu'il n'est pas même possible de définir de problème technique lié à la détermination de cette valeur. Le problème technique à résoudre se réduit alors à celui qui a été retenu ci-dessus (cf. point 7.2.3).

Selon cette première approche, la requérante n'aurait alors pas d'autre alternative, afin de surmonter cet obstacle, que de préciser sa revendication afin d'y intégrer l'étape de fonctionnement du réacteur, comme elle le fait pour la revendication 1 de la requête subsidiaire II.

[...]

7.3 Seconde approche

7.3.1 La requérante a cependant soutenu, en l'espèce, que le caractère technique du procédé revendiqué ne résultait pas seulement de l'usage des moyens informatiques, mais découlait également des données traitées et de l'objectif poursuivi par l'invention, même si celui-ci n'était pas intégré au procédé revendiqué. Cette seconde approche de l'activité inventive est développée ci-dessous.

7.3.2 L'analyse développée au point précédent devrait effectivement être révisée dès lors que l'on reconnaîtrait au procédé revendiqué une dimension technique dépassant la seule interaction algorithme/système informatique, comme le préconise la requérante et comme le reconnurent, dans des situations analogues, les chambres de recours en charge des affaires T 1227/05 (JO OEB 2007, 574) et T 471/05.

En effet, l'analyse de l'activité inventive, qui exige que soient identifiées toutes les caractéristiques techniques de l'invention, conduirait alors, dans cette hypothèse, à prendre en compte l'objectif recherché par l'invention.

[...]

Aussi, selon la Chambre, l'adoption de cette seconde approche, telle que développée dans la décision T 1227/05 (JO OEB 2007, 574) et préconisée par la requérante, conduirait à la conclusion que l'objet de la revendication 1 de procédé serait inventif au sens de l'article 56 CBE 1973.

8. Arguments et jurisprudence

8.1 L'approche adoptée par la division d'examen s'écarte de l'approche adoptée par les chambres dans les décisions T 1227/05 et T 471/05. Les chambres en charge de ces deux affaires ont, en effet, reconnu aux procédés de simulation, respectivement, de conception, un caractère technique découlant de l'objectif recherché par chacune des inventions, c'est-à-dire découlant de la réalisation effective des entités évoquées (circuit électronique et système optique), quand bien même les revendications en question n'intégraient pas cet objectif aux procédés revendiqués (cf. T 1227/05, point 3.2.2; T 471/05, point 4.3).

Il convient de souligner, à l'appui de la position adoptée par la division d'examen, que le procédé revendiqué selon la requête principale pourrait servir des objectifs non-techniques ou bien des objectifs techniques, mais non-nécessairement liés au fonctionnement d'un réacteur nucléaire. Le procédé revendiqué pourrait notamment, au titre d'un premier exemple, correspondre à un exercice conçu à l'intention de programmeurs dans le cadre d'une formation qui leur serait dispensée. Le procédé revendiqué pourrait également, au titre d'un second exemple, être mis en oeuvre afin d'établir, auprès d'autorités compétentes, qu'un réacteur donné remplit bien les prescriptions légales en vigueur requises pour son exploitation. L'opération, confiée à un bureau d'études, aurait alors une finalité exclusivement administrative. En ce qui concerne des applications visant un but à caractère technique, mais différent de celui retenu par la requérante, on peut envisager le cas où le procédé revendiqué serait utilisé pour comparer les performances de certains programmes ou systèmes de traitements automatiques de données afin d'en apprécier les qualités, par exemple, la rapidité de convergence des systèmes ou algorithmes considérés.

L'adoption de la position défendue par la requérante conduirait à reconnaître à la titulaire d'un brevet, limité à un procédé de simulation et donc découplé de toute mise en oeuvre effective des résultats de celle-ci, un monopole qui s'étendrait à des activités qui ne servent aucun objectif technique. Les deux premiers exemples évoqués ci-dessus illustrent cette situation. Le prestataire de service, en général un bureau d'études spécialisé, qui aura procédé à la simulation, objet de l'invention selon la requête principale, afin que le donneur d'ordre puisse se voir accorder une autorisation administrative d'exploitation reproduira le procédé revendiqué, et ceci dans le cadre d'une activité commerciale, rémunérée, mais dépourvue de finalité industrielle directe. Il en ira de même du programmeur a qui on aura demandé, dans un but purement pédagogique, de concevoir le programme informatique requis pour la mise en oeuvre du procédé revendiqué selon la requête principale.

Ces exemples illustrent les inconvénients que l'approche préconisée par la requérante serait susceptible de générer. Reconnaître le bénéfice d'une activité inventive sur la base d'une utilisation du résultat du procédé revendiqué, alors que cette utilisation n'est pas reproduite dans la revendication et ne découle pas nécessairement de l'intitulé de celle-ci, reviendrait, en effet, à rétribuer la requérante au-delà de sa contribution effective à l'état de la technique. En l'occurrence, le breveté disposerait d'un titre qui aurait vocation à s'étendre aux deux premiers exemples cités ci-dessus, c'est-à-dire à des activités qui, si elles avaient fait l'objet de demandes de brevet, auraient été rejetées pour défaut d'activité inventive. Dans ce cas, en effet, la contribution technique eût été limitée à l'automatisation du procédé de simulation qui, conformément à l'analyse reproduite ci-dessus dans le cadre de la première approche, ne saurait suffire à justifier l'existence d'une activité inventive. Le brevet qui serait délivré sur la base de la requête principale aurait également vocation à s'étendre au troisième exemple évoqué ci-dessus, c'est-à-dire à un procédé visant une finalité dont le caractère technique ne saurait être nié, mais que le breveté lui-même n'avait pas envisagée, et dont le caractère inventif n'a jamais fait l'objet d'un quelconque examen.

Dans l'affaire T 1393/11, la Chambre devait se prononcer sur la brevetabilité d'un "procédé de mise à disposition d'informations de documentation relatives à des machines ou des installations complexes, en particulier à une presse d'injection". Après avoir constaté que la revendication 1 de la requête principale ne précisait pas qu'elle était l'utilisation faite de la documentation ainsi constituée, la Chambre en a déduit que le caractère technique de l'invention se limitait à l'usage de moyens techniques afin de constituer la dite documentation. La Chambre a cependant reconnu un caractère technique supplémentaire, dépassant la seule interaction algorithme/système informatique, au procédé de la revendication 1 de la requête subsidiaire qui concernait un procédé de maintenance, de réparation et d'utilisation d'un dispositif complexe comprenant l'utilisation d'une documentation technique obtenue à partir du procédé d'élaboration de la documentation correspondant à celui de la la revendication 1 de la requête principale.

8.1.1 Cette démarche, qui ne prend en compte que les caractéristiques techniques découlant effectivement du procédé revendiqué et écarte donc tout effet technique qui ne serait qu'éventuel, semble garantir que le problème objectif qui est finalement retenu dans le cadre de l'approche problème-solution soit valable sur l'ensemble du domaine revendiqué. La démarche est, à cet égard, identique à celle adoptée dans l'affaire T 939/92.

Cette position est confortée par le point de vue exprimé par la chambre en charge de l'affaire T 619/02 (JO OEB,2007, 063). Dans la décision rendue dans cette affaire, la Chambre retient, en effet, que:

" Ni le fait que le résultat de la méthode revendiquée soit utilisable dans le cadre d'une activité technique ou industrielle, ni le fait que ce résultat puisse être qualifié d'utile, de pratique ou de commercialisable, ne suffisent pour établir le caractère technique de la méthode proprement dite ou de son résultat (point 2.6.2)."

Dans cette affaire, la chambre avait à se prononcer sur le caractère technique d'une méthode de sélection d'odeurs pour sélectionner une odeur qui corresponde à un stimulus cible ou de mise en condition déterminé, de nature visuelle ou auditive. En l'absence de mise en oeuvre de la méthode selon la revendication 1 de la requête principale et de la première requête subsidiaire, la chambre a retenu, en l'absence de toute autre caractéristique de nature technique, que:

"Aucun caractère technique ne peut donc être reconnu à la méthode revendiquée dans son ensemble, [...]. Par conséquent, la méthode définie à la revendication 1 [...] ne constitue pas une invention brevetable au sens de l'article 52(1) CBE" (cf. points 2.7 et 3).

Le caractère technique était néanmoins reconnu à la revendication 1 de la requête subsidiaire 2 qui portait sur une "méthode de fabrication d'un produit parfumé, consistant à parfumer un produit avec une odeur...", l'odeur étant sélectionnée selon la procédure définie dans la revendication 1 de la requête principale.

[...]

8.2 Selon la requérante, l'approche suivie par la division d'examen et initialement privilégiée par la Chambre, qui consiste à ne pas nécessairement tenir compte de l'utilisation du résultat de la simulation dans l'analyse de l'activité inventive, si celle-ci n'est pas effectivement revendiquée, ne serait pas conforme à la jurisprudence des chambres de recours de l'OEB désormais en vigueur depuis la décision rendue dans l'affaire T 1227/05 (JO 2007, 574). Cette approche jurisprudentielle a en effet été confirmée à plusieurs reprises, notamment dans la décision T 471/05. Elle l'a également été par la Chambre 3.4.01 en charge de la présente affaire, dans la décision rendue dans l'affaire T 1586/09.

8.2.1 Dans la décision T 1227/05, la Chambre, après avoir rappelé que :
"Au-delà de sa mise en oeuvre, une étape de procédé ne peut contribuer au caractère technique du procédé que dans la mesure où elle aide à réaliser un des objectifs techniques du procédé"

exprime sa conviction selon laquelle

"la simulation d'un circuit soumis à un bruit 1/f constitue un objectif suffisamment défini d'un procédé assisté par ordinateur, dans la mesure où le procédé se limite fonctionnellement à l'objectif technique."

Après avoir constaté que l'objectif déclaré, à savoir la simulation d'un circuit soumis à un bruit 1/f, est effectivement réalisée par le biais des étapes du procédé revendiqué, la Chambre en a déduit que les revendications de procédé indépendantes étaient fonctionnellement limitées à la simulation d'un circuit soumis à un bruit (cf. point 3.1.2). La Chambre a finalement conclu:

"Par conséquent, la Chambre est d'avis que les étapes utiles à la simulation du circuit contribuent toutes, y compris les caractéristiques des revendications exprimées en langage mathématique, au caractère technique du procédé de simulation selon les revendications 1 et 2".

En accord avec la requérante, la Chambre estime, dans le cas d'espèce, que la question dont elle a à connaître est, sur le principe, identique à la question qui se posait à la chambre 3.5.01 dans l'affaire T 1227/05. Dans le cas d'espèce, la Chambre est également convaincue que les étapes b), c) et d) du procédé revendiqué servent l'objectif annoncé de détermination d'une valeur limite de fonctionnement du réacteur nucléaire.

8.2.2 C'est une approche similaire qu'a suivi la chambre en charge de l'affaire T 471/05. Celle-ci a tout d'abord reconnu le caractère technique du procédé de conception d'un système optique selon la revendication de la requête subsidiaire II dans la mesure où la mise en oeuvre de la méthode se faisait au moyen d'un programme d'ordinateur, ce que la revendication 1 des requêtes principale et auxiliaire I ne précisaient pas (cf. point 4.1). Dans son analyse de l'activité inventive, la chambre ne s'est pas limitée à la contribution technique résultant de l'interaction entre le programme et l'ordinateur, mais a bel et bien pris en compte les effets recherchés par la méthode revendiquée en terme de champ de vue et d'excursion axiale du système à concevoir, alors même que la réalisation du système optique n'était pas revendiquée en tant que telle (cf. point 4.3).

[...]

8.4 À l'issue de la délibération de la Chambre, celle-ci est arrivée à la conclusion que la détermination, en tant que valeur limite, de la valeur du premier paramètre de fonctionnement conférait un caractère technique à la revendication, ce caractère technique dépassant la simple interaction entre l'algorithme de simulation numérique et le système informatique. La nature du paramètre ainsi identifié est, en effet, intimement liée au fonctionnement d'un réacteur nucléaire, que ce paramètre fasse l'objet d'une utilisation effective au sein d'un réacteur nucléaire ou non. Ce faisant, la Chambre reconnaît la pertinence de l'analyse développée dans l'affaire T 1227/05 qu'elle reprend à son compte. De même, de l'avis de la Chambre, la nature des paramètres qui interviennent dans le cadre de la simulation (contraintes, températures, capacités calorifiques, pressions, dimensions...) confère elle aussi un caractère technique à l'invention revendiquée.

Ce constat conduit à retenir l'analyse développée ci-dessus (cf. point 7) au titre de la seconde approche envisageable et donc à conclure que l'objet de la revendication 1 selon la requête principale est inventif au sens de l'article 56 CBE 1973. Il en va, dés lors, de même de l'objet des revendications indépendantes 17, 19 et 20.

8.5 Par conséquent, il est fait droit à la requête principale.

9. Requête subsidiaire I (saisine de la Grande Chambre) et requêtes subsidiaires II et III.
La Chambre ayant fait droit à la requête principale de la requérante, la requête en saisine de la Grande Chambre est désormais dépourvue d'objet.

Pour cette même raison, la Chambre n'a pas à statuer sur la brevetabilité des requêtes subsidiaires II et III.

Dispositif

Par ces motifs, il est statué comme suit
1. La décision contestée est annulée.
2. L'affaire est renvoyée à l'instance du premier degré afin de délivrer un brevet dans la version suivante :
[...]

This decision T_0625/11 (pdf) has European Case Law Identifier:  ECLI:EP:BA:2017:T062511.20170119. The file wrapper can be found here
Photo "Max Doorrijhoogte" by Romano Beitsma (C) 2017.
 

T 1434/13: When priority becomes important: D1 is published in the priority year

Delta Patents Patent Law -

Fig. 2 of D1 (WO2006/095202)

Only in few number cases the right to priority is extensively examined - in general only if there is prior art that has been published in the priority year. In this opposition appeal there was a document on file (D1) that was published in the priority year of the disputed patent. An interesting thing to mention is that document D1 is a PCT application of the same applicant as the owner of the disputed patent. In the opposition proceedings, the Division decided that the patent did not enjoy the right of priority from the two priority documents and, thus, that the claim as granted lacked novelty. In this appeal, the Board repeated the work of the Opposition Division. The Board wrote down an interesting reasoning because different aspects played a role: features were disclosed in the figures, features were not disclosed as a whole in a single embodiment and it seems that essential elements of the priority documents are not the claims (in other words: the priority documents disclose different inventions). 


Summary of Facts and Submissions
I. This decision concerns the appeal filed by the patent proprietor (appellant) against the decision of the Opposition Division to revoke European patent No. 1 777 707.
II. European application No. 06022069.6 on which the patent was granted was filed on 20 October 2006, claiming priority from the following United States patent applications and respective filing dates:
P1: US 728456 P of 20 October 2005;
P2: US 728497 P of 20 October 2005.
III. Granted claim 1 reads as follows (itemisation added by the Board):
(1) "A container for carrying an information storage medium, the container comprising:
(2) a) a bottom cover (110; 410; 610) having inner and outer surfaces;
(3) b) a top cover (111; 411; 611) having inner and outer surfaces;
(4a) c) a medium-engaging element (115; 655) provided on the inner surface of at least one (110) of the top and bottom covers
(4b) or on an insert tray (650) inserted into the bottom cover (610), for securing a storage medium thereto;
(5) d) a hinge (112; 412; 612) connecting the bottom cover (110; 410; 610) and the top cover (111; 411; 611);
(6a) e) a display band region (114; 414; 614) provided on the outer surface of at least one of the top cover (111; 411; 611) and the bottom cover (110; 410; 610),
(6b) in an area proximate and along one edge of the container,
(7a) the display band region (114; 331; 414; 614) being configured and adapted for display of indicia,
(7b) and being exposed to an outer side of the container,
characterised in that
(8) the container comprises a transition (417) defined by said display band region (114; 414; 614)
(9) that stands proud of the adjacent surface of the outer surface of the at least one of the top cover (111; 411; 611) and the bottom cover (110; 410; 610)."
[...]
Reasons for the Decision
1. The appeal complies with the provisions referred to in Rule 101 EPC and is therefore admissible.
The invention
2. The invention concerns a container for carrying a storage medium, e.g. a CD, including bottom and top walls connected by a hinge or spine and a medium-engaging element provided on the inner surface of at least one of the top and bottom walls (or "covers") for securing the storage medium (see paragraphs [0025], [0034] and [0035] of the B9 publication).
In one of the embodiments of the description, the container includes a display region provided on the outer surface of the top wall, configured and adapted for the display of indicia (paragraph [0025]).
The container may further include a film forming "a pocket extending from and across the outer surface of the top wall, around the hinge and across the outer surface of the bottom wall", which "can function as a receptacle for printed material related to the media held in the container" (see paragraph [0026]).
Main request
3. Priority
3.1 The Opposition Division was of the opinion that neither P1 nor P2 disclosed feature (7a) of claim 1, i.e. the display band region being configured and adapted for display of indicia. Neither of those documents was concerned with the problem solved by the opposed patent, which was displaying additional media format information on the container. Furthermore, some specific preferred features mentioned in the summary of the invention in paragraphs [0013], [0016] and [0018] of the B1 publication had no basis in documents P1 and P2.
3.2 It is common ground in the parties' submissions that neither of the priority documents P1 and P2 describes in written form all the features of claim 1 as granted. The points of dispute are whether the subject-matter of claim 1, in particular features (7a) to (9) and some alternatives recited by features (4a) and (6a), can be considered to be disclosed in the priority document as a whole, taking the drawings into account.
3.3 In opinion G 2/98, the Enlarged Board ruled that the requirement for claiming priority of "the same invention", referred to in Article 87(1) EPC, meant that "priority of a previous application in respect of a claim in a European patent application in accordance with Article 88 EPC is to be acknowledged only if the skilled person can derive the subject-matter of the claim directly and unambiguously, using common general knowledge, from the previous application as a whole" (see reasons 9 and headnote).
It follows that when acknowledging priority, even though - as argued by the appellant - identical wording is not required, a narrow or strict interpretation of the concept of "the same invention" in accordance with opinion G 2/98 has to be applied. The criterion "directly and unambiguously derivable, using common knowledge" is the same as that used for judging whether an amendment fulfills the requirements of Article 123(2) EPC (see also Case Law of the Boards of Appeal, 8th edition 2016, II.D.3.1.1 and 3.1.2).
Decision T 169/83, which has been cited by the parties, discusses the restriction of granted claims with features taken from drawings. The Board agrees that conclusions of that decision regarding the interpretation of features shown solely in drawings have since been considered relevant in different contexts, including those of priority right and added subject-matter (see e.g. Case Law of the Boards of Appeal, 8th edition 2016, I.C.4.6, II.C.2, II.D.3.1.3 and II.E.1.12.1).
According to decision T 169/83, features clearly disclosed only in the original drawings can be used to define more precisely the subject-matter for which protection is sought as long as the skilled person can, on the basis of the whole description, unmistakably and fully recognise those features in terms of their structure and function as being manifestly part of the invention. An amendment is unallowable if the overall change in content of the application, whether by way of addition, alteration or excision, results in the skilled person being presented with information which is not directly and unambiguously derivable from that previously presented by the application (see e.g. T 169/83, headnote, reasons 3.5 and 3.7). Amendments directed to an undisclosed arbitrary combination of features of different embodiments are not allowable.
Those findings equally apply to the requirements needed to establish whether the right of priority is valid with respect to claimed subject-matter comprising features taken from drawings of a priority document.
3.4 According to the appellant's submissions and the description, the invention of granted claim 1, and in particular the display band region characterised by features (7a) and (7b), addresses the problem described in paragraphs [0004] and [0005] of the B9 publication, i.e. difficulty locating a film in the desired format. This problem was due to the ever increasing variety of formats for recorded media and lack of a consistent way of providing icons indicating the medium format on an easy-to-find location of the printed material. The solution consisted in providing a band-shaped region for display of indicia (paragraphs [0018] and [0019]).
3.5 Each of documents P1 and P2 consists of a description in text and drawings. Neither of the documents includes claims. Some of the figures of documents P1 and P2 do indeed seem to depict a display band region. However, neither of the documents even refers in the text to a display region or a transition, or the function of displaying indicia for easily locating a film in the desired format. Without an accompanying description of the display band region, the Board is not fully convinced that the skilled person would be able to clearly and unambiguously derive from documents P1 and P2 the function and structure of the display band region in the packages described in those documents.
The Board further notes that the drawings of documents P1 and P2 do not show all the alternatives covered by the claim. For example, none of the drawings depicts the alternative defined by feature (6a) of a display band region only on the outer surface of the bottom cover.
More importantly, the packages of documents P1 and P2 address different problems to those addressed by the container of the disputed patent and have different combinations of features, as explained in the following.
3.5.1 The package of document P1 is designed in such a way that the spine of the package has a curved or rounded profile similar to the three remaining edges of the CD package. This is achieved through a living hinge configuration that is adapted to allow the spine to be curved or rounded (paragraphs [0007] and [0008]). In that configuration, the spine portion and living hinges of the package are not located in the plane of the base and cover portions when the package is in the open position, as in the related art described in P1, but above that plane at approximately the mid-height of the base and cover portions. The living hinges are positioned at the end of an arc that extends from the outer surfaces of the cover and base (see paragraphs [0021] and [0022] and Figure 3B).
The rounded or curved ends and spine are therefore essential features of the invention disclosed in document P1 (see also paragraph [0020]). Those features are present in each of the packages described or depicted in the drawings, with the exception of Figure 1 illustrating the prior art, which however does not show a display band region. The skilled person would understand each of the embodiments of the invention of document P1 to include those essential features and that the curved or rounded edges and spine could not be left out. However, claim 1 of the contested patent does not recite rounded or curved ends. Document P1 therefore does not disclose the subject-matter of claim 1, which lacks those features.
3.5.2 The compact disc packages of document P2 address the problem of avoiding tampering with or theft of the storage medium in the package (paragraph [0004]). In order to solve that problem, each of the embodiments includes a security feature such as a band (see e.g. Figure 6, reference sign 270, paragraph [00022]), a bar (see e.g. Figure 10, reference sign 490, paragraphs [00016] and [00029]) or a tag (see e.g. Figure 29, reference sign 530, paragraph [00032]). The security feature is described in document P2, for each of the respective embodiments, as an essential feature of the package. Furthermore, the spine and edges of each of the containers shown in the drawings of document P2 are rounded or curved for the same purpose as that described in document P1 (see paragraphs [00021] and [00028] of document P2).
Figures 10 to 13, 17 to 19, 24, 26 and 28 of document P2, cited by the appellant as depicting the display band region, do not show a medium-engaging element. The appellant also argued that Figures 1 to 5, 8 and 21 showed an embodiment with a front cover comprising an aperture provided in a display band region and an insert tray with indicia thereon. However, the Board notes that the written disclosure of document P2 describes neither the display band region nor the marking. Even if the skilled person were to interpret the drawings of document P2 as depicting a display band region, he would not derive from those drawings and corresponding written description the broader display band region covered by claim 1 of the contested patent, but only the specific solution including a display region with an aperture, an insert tray, the marking being provided on the insert tray (paragraph [0022]). Paragraph [0003] mentions that other enclosures omit the tray, but this paragraph describes the prior art and does not disclose a display band region.
The Board is therefore of the opinion that the skilled person would not directly and unambiguously derive from document P2 the teaching of a package including the specific combination of features recited in claim 1 of the contested patent, which includes features of separate embodiments and excludes essential features common to all embodiments. The skilled person would not understand from document P2 that the security feature and the curved or rounded edges were optional.
3.6 Taking the above reasoning into account, the Board concludes that neither document P1 nor document P2 discloses the same invention as claim 1 of the contested patent as required by Articles 87(1) and 88 EPC. Neither of those documents therefore can serve as a basis for validly claiming a right of priority with respect to the subject-matter of claim 1 of the disputed patent.
4. Novelty - document D1
4.1 It follows from the above that the effective filing date with respect to claim 1 of the disputed patent is the date of filing of the European patent application, 20 October 2006. Since document D1 was published before that date, on 14 September 2006, it forms part of the state of the art under Article 54(2) EPC.
[...]

4.4 Consequently, the subject-matter of claim 1 of the contested patent is not novel over the disclosure of document D1 (Article 54(1) and (2) EPC).

[...]

Conclusion
13. Since none of the appellant's requests is allowable, the appeal is to be dismissed.
Order
For these reasons it is decided that:
The appeal is dismissed.
This decision T1434/13 (pdf) has European Case Law Identifier:  ECLI:EP:BA:2016:T143413.20160913. The file wrapper can be found here. The illustration is Fig. 2 of document D1 (WO2006/095202).

Paper C 2017 Corkscrew

Delta Patents Paper C -

Here our fast attempt to C 2017 (paper here in EN and FR):

Claim 3(2): Added Subject-matter, Art.100(c), Art.123(2), metal necessary [0014]

Effective dates:
Cl. 1, 2, 3(1),4: P1 = 08.04.2010
Cl. 5-7: P2 = 28.03.2011

List of Evidence:
A2, A3, A5, A6: Art.54(2) all claims
A4 (the fair, not the document): Art.54(2) for claims 5-7

Other attacks
Claim 1: inv. step A6+A2, cork more stable, alternative solution (no spring)
(NA5 doesn't work. ridges not helical, not cork engaging, pitch undefined)

Claim 2: I've changed this based on the discussion below.
First option: inv. step A5 + A6 + A2
Alternative: inv. step A6+A2+A5, less force/effort for cork removal
(A3 misses the effect)
Probably only one option required. Probably 1st option is preferred.

Claim 3(1): inv. step A6+A2, A6 is already PET

Claim 4: inv. step A6+A2+A3, clover shape or 3/4 lobs from A3, better grip
(T641/00 doesn't work, technical effect present)

Claim 5: Nov A4 (A2 as evidence for reduced friction)
(NA2 doesn't work, no disc, no straight portion or no spiral portion)
(NA5 doesn't work, no coating on the spiral portion)

Claim 6: inv. step A4+A2, particularly good material for reducing friction, alternative for PFC
(A5+A2 may be possible, easier insertion, weaker, A5 not CPA)
(A4+A5 does not work, A5 misses the effect)

Claim 7: inv. step A4+A2, 'lower half', 'smoother insertion' (A2 [0005]), 'expensive' (A2 [0006]), compromise between low cost and low friction
(A5+A2 may be possible, easier insertion, weaker, A5 not CPA)

Looking forward to your comments, 

Joeri Beetz, Jelle Hoekstra

(c) DeltaPatents 2017

C 2017: first impressions?

Delta Patents Paper C -

To all who sat the C-paper today:
What are your first impressions to this year's C-paper?
Any general or specific comments?

Was the number of claims as expected, or more, or less? And the number of prior art documents?
Were the various attack types well balanced - novelty, inventive step, added subject-matter, ...?
Was the described technology well understandable? For electronics/electricity attorneys, mechanics attorneys, chemists, biotech attorneys, ...?

How many marks do you expect to have scored?
What is your expectation of the pass rate and the average score?
How did this year's paper compare to the 2013 - 2016 papers (assuming your practiced those)

The paper and our answersCopies of the paper will be provided on this blog as soon as we have received copies of the papers, in all three languages here (English, French and German).

The core of our answers will be given as soon as possible in a separate blog post.

We look forward to your comments!Comments are welcome in any official EPO language, not just English. So, comments in German and French are also very welcome!

Please do not post your comments anonymously - it is allowed, but it makes responding more difficult and rather clumsy ("Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Anonymous of 03-03-2015 03:03"), whereas using your real name or a pseudonym is more personal, more interesting and makes a more attractive conversation. You do not need to log in or make an account - it is OK to just put your (nick) name at the end of your post.

Please post your comments as to first impressions and general remarks to this blog.
Please post responses to our answer (as soon as available) to the separate blog post with our answer.

Thanks!

DII 2017: metal beams having projections formed by rolling processes - our answers

Delta Patents paper D -


How difficult was this DII? Opinions differ whether this was quite a standard DII in style and difficulty level, or whether it was much more evolved than in 2014-2016...  Again several PCTs that become, or not, Art.54(3) against others. Also non-published applications, deemed to be withdrawn applications, one grant, and one R.71(3) for which the time limit was missed. Again an application from which you can still claim priority and a competitor in China where you do not have any applications yet, so a need to file a PCT claiming priority from an earlier application to get something against your Chinese competitor. One may have been tempted to do entitlement to the ST-EP2 part of CB-PCT, but as that part is novelty-destroyed by ST-EP2 (or rather, the new application claiming priority from that), there is no need and no use. And product-by-process claims as well as product-directly-obtained-from-the-process protection. Also a transfer of an application and a priority right, supplementing the transfer of a granted patent and the transfer of an opposition in DI. Further difficulties to handle: quite a lot of claims to deal with, and priority was not valid for all claims in each application;  inventions were longer phrases written as product by process, making it more difficult to compare; there was also disclosures & application for a process; a lot of the issues were not straightforward when you looked in detail - e.g. trade fair had demonstration + test results + video; a lot of possible options to consider before you get to end - not possible to clear all of them up with certainty.

We do not give a full analysis, but summarize the conclusions of all questions below. A full answer needs full discussion as to whether priority is valid or not, what all the prior art is, novelty, inventive step, provisional protection, full protection, etc.


The outline of our answer:Question 1) Situation as it currently stands

my timeline for this DII - indispensable tool - as long as you can understand your own timeline it is OK, I am sorry if you cannot understand mine... In this DII, it becomes messed up quite easily, so you may need to make it a second time (in fact, the one above is my second one after the article, CB-PCT filing, ST-EP3 filing, sales Oct 16 all got cluttered together)

a) [any]:
We (can) validly get ST-EP1, claiming prio from ST-GB1.
The product claim of ST-EP1 is a product-by-process claim, and gives protection to the metal beam having projections as such. As the beam obtained by the roller process is distinguishable (see par [005]) from the known metal beam having projections that are stamped on it from OLD1, the beam as claimed is novel.
But we just missed the R.71(3) period, so it is deemed to be withdrawn (can be remedied, see Q.2-a).
The process claim of ST-EP1 is also new and inventive, as it results in a new and inventive beam with projections.

ST-EP1’s content corresponding to ST-GB1 is Art.54(3) vs CB-EP. CB-EP’s process to a forming a beam by rolling a metal strip between a pair of rollers is not novel over our process in ST-EP1 of forming a beam by rolling metal strip between a pair of rollers having teeth (genus not novel over species).
Even though CB-EP’s claim is not novel, it is a granted patent as it currently stands.

Remark: [011] gives only little information about CB-EP. If one would read “rollers” to be “rollers without teeth”, CB-EP would be novel w.r.t. ST-EP1, unless ST-EP1 would describe a process with “roller without teeth” in the background section – which is likely in view of the way the invention is presented in [002]. CB-EP could then get its inventive step over OLD1 from absence of stress effects that is also obtained by rolling processes without teeth – see [005], second sentence. However, [005] in the same sentence clarifies that “a rolling process” can be “with or without teeth”, such that it does not seem expected to read the term “rollers” as “rollers without teeth”, but just as “any type of rollers”.

Note that the video of the rolling process shown in UAE in Nov 2013 is too late to be prior art against CB-EP.

b) [SHAPE-A]:
ST-EP1 novelty-destroyed by the demo in UAE

Your sales to Casistas in ES in October 2016 are infringing on the CB-EP, as directly obtained by a rolling process, if CB-EP was validated in ES (we can check). Not relevant that rolling process as claimed does not specify teeth or SHAPE-A teeth. CB may try to stop us.

The import and sales of SHAPE-A into/in ES by CHINABEAM of February 2017 would infringe ST-EP1 is still alive.

c) [SHAPE-B]:
ST-EP2 is first application. But it is deemed to be withdrawn as no fees were paid, and too late to remedy (more than 2m after July 2016). Can be used as priority applicat6ion for a new filing (see Q.2-c)

ST-EP3 has valid pri from ST-EP2 for SHAPE-B, as pri was transferred before ST-EP3 was filed
    - ST-EP1 is published shortly after 29/3/13+18m->23/3/15, so Art.54(2); ST-EP3 is novel and inv as SHAPE-B not disclosed and considerably improved strength
    - The demo in UAE is Art.54(2), but ST-EP3 is inventive over it due to considerably improved strength
    - so, SHAPE-B novel and inv in ST-EP3

CB-PCT is novelty-destroyed in EP by ST-EP3 and by the article in the trade journal of 11/4/16
    - CB-PCT has no valid pri, as ST-EP2 and its priority right were already transferred to ST
    - but if priority issue not detected, CB-PCT may be invalidly granted (see Q.2-c)

d) [SHAPE-B1]:
ST-EP3 is novelty-destroyed by CB-PCT in EP if PCT enters EP

ST-EP1 was published promptly after 23/9/13 + 18m  23/3/15, i.e. before CB-PCT was filed, so is full prior art
CB-PCT’s –B1 is new over –B in ST-EP1 and over –A in UAE and over OLD1
and can get protection in EP if it enters

The recent offer of SHAPE-B1 to Casistas ES ([008]) by CHINABEAM would infringe ST-EP1’s broad claim if it would have been still alive –but it is not-, and could infringe ST-EP3’s -B1 claim if that would already have been published – but it will only in mid Sep 2017.

Question 2) Improvementsa) [any]:
ST-EP1: remedy missed R.71(3) (TL expired 28/2/17): FP for fees and translations, flat FP fee, within 2m from the to be received notification
As claim 2 of ST-EP1 (directed to SHAPE-A) is not novel: advise to amend to by deleting claim 2 and waive second R.71(3) to avoid opposition against ST-EP1.

Oppose CB-EP due to lack of novelty over ST-EP1 (Art 54(3)).
File notice of opposition and pay the opposition fee by 8/6/16 + 9m  8/3/17 = tomorrow!!

b) [SHAPE-A]:
noone can get a valid claim to it

c) [SHAPE-B]:
file a PCT appl, ST-PCT, claiming prio from ST-EP2 (for SHAPE-B) and –just in case CB-PCT does not enter EP – also from ST-EP3 (for SHAPE-B1), by 11/3/16+12m->11/3/17 (Sat)->13/3/17
Enter China and UAE with our new ST-PCT

File third party observations against CB-PCT in international or EP-phase: lack of novelty ST-EP2 (but as Art.54(3) it will be more useful to do so in EP phase) and lack of novelty article I the trade journal 11/4/16.
Include invalidity of priority as part of the novelty-argumentation: the transfer documents are on file at the EPO in the file of ST-EP2 and will be inspectable after its publication promptly after 11/3/16 + 18m -> 11/9/17.

d) [SHAPE-B1]:
cannot invalidate SHAPE-B1 in CD-PCT, but in case they do not enter EP, we can with  ST-PCT (see c)

Question 3) What we and CB can / cannot do in the futurea) [any]
we free, as long as not SHAPE-B1

we can stop CB from making -with any type of process-, selling and importing beams with protrusions of any shape, including A, B & B1 with ST-EP1's product claim, after grant and where validated. Validate at least in GB to prevent others to sell and import in our home market & in ES to prevent others to sell and import in our major market and esp to our major clients Casistas

we can also stop CB from making beams with protrusions of any shape using a process using rollers with teeth, including A, B & B1 with ST-EP1's process claim, after grant and where validated. The process claim can also be used to stop CB from making, selling and importing beams with protrusions of any shape which are directly obtained from this process, including A, B & B1

CB not free in EP due to ST-EP1, free outside EP

b) [SHAPE-A]:
we free

CB not free in EP due to ST-EP1’s generic, free outside EP

c) [SHAPE-B]
we free, as long as not SHAPE-B1

CB not free in EP due to ST-EP1’s generic, ST-EP3, ST-PCT and not free outside EP where we enter with ST-PCT, i.e., at least CN and UAE

d) [SHAPE-B1]
if CB-PCT enters, we not free; same elsewhere

CB not free in EP due to ST-EP1’s generic, ST-EP3’s SHAPE-B, ST-PCT’s SHAPE-B and not free outside EP where we enter with ST-PCT, i.e., at least CN and UAE

As SHAPE-B1 is technically superior, suggest cross-licence to allow STEELCO to import & sell B1 in ES to Casistas and to allow CB e.g. to operate in CN (but not in our markets).

Any comments, differing opinions, questions are welcome!

Please do not post your comments anonymously: it is more easy to communicate with a person having a name. Nicknames are fine, real names as well.

Roel, Pete

(c) DeltaPatents 2017

D 2017: our answers to the DI-part

Delta Patents paper D -


The DI part of this year's D had a variety of topics and was -in our view- one of the more difficult DI papers. Scoring about 20 to 25 marks within 2 hours seems however feasible for a well-prepared candidate. How many marks one can achieve does not only depend on the legal knowledge and familiarity with the material, but also depends strongly on the strategy chosen for the D paper as a whole, especially how much time a candidate allocated for DI, how many marks were targetted, and how the candidate planned to deal with and actually dealt with difficult questions (skip or struggle, impose time limit or continue until no more ideas, ...).

We want to emphasize that our answer is not a typical answer of a candidate sitting the exam. It is the combined or at least cross-checked answer of experienced tutors, that could literally (not) sleep overnight to reconsider the answers before posting them. But even experienced tutors are not flawless, so our answer may not be fully complete, or even wrong as to certain aspects. We welcome any comments!

The outline of our answers:

Q.1 (6 points)7/8/13 + 31m [R.159(1), R.131(4)] -> 7/3/17 = today
so need to enter today to prevent

a)
  • amend claims to only indep claim 1 @ entry – R.159(1)(b)
  • waive R.161/162, request PACE examination – OJ 2015, A93 & A94
  • respond asap to R.71(3): pay and translate
  • file divisional after entry and before mention of the grant to just claim 2 – Art.76(1), R.36(1)

b)
  • enter with both inventions, unamended
  • wait for R.164(2)(a) invitation to pay for second invention
  • pay the additional search fee - RFees 2(1).2
  • earch results will then be annexed to the first R.71(1) – R.164(2)(b)
  • and you can choose from the two – R.164(2)(c)

Q.2  (6 points)Note: at first sight it seemed not so clear what was expected. On second sight, it appears that the question's subject is how to register a transfer of the patent during opposition in a) and how to transfer the opposition status in b), with the complication of a change of representative.

a)
  • new repr needs to be appointed as D is US client – Art.133(2)
  • although not needed as new rep is expected and D is new party, optionally file PoA for new representative - R.152(1), OJ 2007 – SE3 – L.1
  • register transfer to EPO of patent from C to D at EPO – R.85, R.22-:
    • provide evidence of the transfer: the signatures of both parties C and D need appear on the documents submitted as evidence of the transfer – Art.72, GL (2016) E-XIII, 3
    • pay administrative fee – R.22(2), RFees 3
  • new repr files amended claims

b)
  • Mr.X must inform EPO of the transfer of the company assests from B to E – G 4/88, and give evidence – R.85 mutatis mutandis
  • Oppo status is then transferred to E – G 4/88
  • Mr.X does not need to file a PoA for representing E, as first prof rep for this party – OJ 2007 – SE3 – L.1 

Q.3  (4 (!) points)
  • today is end of 12m priority period – Art.87(1)
  • so need to file today and get today as the filing date to benefit from priority
  • indicate EP patent – R.40(1)(c)
  • my contact details are enough to be able to contact applicant  - R.40(1)(b); GL (2016) A-II 4.1.2 (a)
  • file by reference – R.40(1)(c), R.40(2): indicate JP12345, JP, 7/3/17 & indicate that references replaces description, drawings and claims (cannot be sure that we can file w/o claims, as they may be broader than the description)
  • file certified copy of JP12345 within 2m, so by 7/5/17 [R.134(1)} -> 8/5/17 – R.40(3)
  • file translation into En,Fr or DE within same period – R.40(3)

Probably not needed as it is a 4-mark question:

  • file declaration of priority – R.52(2) within 16m from prio, so by 7/3/16+16m->7/7/17 (Fri)
  • no need to file two certified copies, one is enough – GL (2016) A-II, 4.1.3.1

Q.4  (6 points)
  • the tel interview of June 16 is not enabled, so not prior art vs EP-F
  • US-P is not an EP-application so cannot be Art.54(3)
  • the info that is accessible on the website of F at a payment is Art.54(2) against EP-F: Aug 16 is before Dec 16
  • no prior art shows TEL2, so EPF’s claim to TEL2 is novel
  • the info that is accessible on the website of F (TEL1 with ANT1) + common general knowledge (ANT2 better indoor reception) destroys inventive step of EPF’s claim to TEL2 – Art.56
  • prio to US-P would not help: not same invention
  • so TEL2 is not patentable


Probably not needed:

  • a new EP claiming prio from US-P would be art.54(3) against EP-F, but TEL1 is not the same as TEL2, so EP-F would be novel over such new EP

Q.5  (10 (!) points)12.2.16 + 12m -> 12/2/17 (Sun) -> 13/2/17, so filing on 14/2/17 in princple too late to have valid priority

a)
  • but if after 12m and before 14m, priority claim is not considered void in international phase
  • so we could just request to add a priority claim using R.26bis.1(a) until the latest of:
    • 16m from added pri: 12/2/16 + 16m [R.80.2] -> 12/6/17 (Mon)
    • 4m from filing: 14/2/17 + 4m -> 14/6/17 (Wed)
  • so until 14/6/17
  • by a notice to the rO=EPO or IB – R.26bis.1(a)

b)
  • 31m limit recalculated from new earliest prio-date – R.26bis.1©
  • so changes from 16/2/16+31m->16/9/18 to 12/2/16+31m->12/9/18 (+ possible R.134(1) extension - no 2018 calendar provided)

c)
  • priority period was missed, so EPO will invite to correct and notify about possibility to do restoration - R.26bis.2(a)
  • priority period was missed despite all due case, so can request restoration of prio before rO = EPO – R.26bis.3
  • within 13/2/17+2m [R.26bis.3(b)(i), R.26bis.3(e)] -> 13/4/17 (Thu)
  • argue all due care – R.26bis.3(a)(i) & (b)(i) – and give evidence –(b)(ii)
  • with rO=EPO
  • pay fee – R.26bis.3(d), RFees 2(1).13
  • then priority period deemed met
  • if prio declaration was not added before rO as described under a), can still ad it now, within the same 2m time limit – R.26bis.3(c)
  • dOs will recognzie restoration if succesful - R.49ter.1(a)

Q.6  (8 points)a)
  • filing fee R.38(1), RFees 2(1).1
  • page fees for pages in PT > 35, i.e. 32+4+1(abstract)-35=37-35=2, R.38(2), RFees 2(1).1a
  • search fee R.38(1), RFees 2(1).2
  • note: no claims fees: as not over 15, R.45(1)

b)
  • university from PT so entitled to get a filing fee reduction if filing in PT
  • need to file descr in PT
  • need to file declaration R.6(4)-(7) to get reduction of 30% of filing fee (basic plus page fee) - R.6(3), RFees14
  • use online filing and not post or paper filing: EUR 120 vs 210 filing fee, minus 30%
  • so if filing in PT and online: (120 + 3*15) * 70% = EUR 115,50
     
  • filing in English would be 3 pages less and no page fees, but no 30%
  • so if filing in English and online: EUR 120
  • filing in PT is cheapest

c)
  • replenishment too late, so paid too late – AAD 7-, so FP needed – OJ 2014, A26 (“general provisions of the EPC apply”)
  • as automatic debiting was already active,  FP fee will be deduced on the last day of the period – AAD 6.1(g)
  • so need to make sure there is enough money then for missed fees + 50%
  • apart from that, no other action needed

Looking forward to read your comments!

Please do not post your comments anonymously: it is more easy to communicate with a person having a name. Nicknames are fine, real names as well.

Roel, Pete, Grégory

(c) DeltaPatents 2017

Pre-Exam 2017: our answers to the toothbrush questions (claims analysis part)

Delta Patents Pre-Exam -


The claims analysis part was about toothbrushes for human use.

The client's application described that a drawback of known toothbrushes is that the users need to be trained by dentists in order to achieve optimum dental plaque removal. Remaining dental plaque can give rise to dental caries, which is highly undesirable.
The invention is presented as being based on the surprising finding that the amount of dental plague removal can be increased by transmitting additional vibrations to the bristles of the toothbrush, generated by an electric vibrator inside the brush body, preferably in the handle together with a controller and a battery. The controller acts as a switching device for selectively supplying electric energy from the battery to an electrically operated element, because the controller connects and disconnects the vibrator from the battery.
Four embodiments are described and shown in four figures. In some embodiments, the controller uses a push button to turn on&off the vibrations; in other embodiments, a pressure sensor in the bristle zone is used. Some embodiments have a replaceable brush and a connection section to connect it to the handle. A LED can be incorporated to emphasize the technical character, which makes users think that the toothbrush has a higher cleaning efficiency.
The toothbrushes must have a length of less than 30 cm, or between 18 and 25 cm when having a replaceable brush head for ergonomic reasons.

Two prior art documents were found by you (D1, D2); two more prior art documents were found by the EPO (D3, D4):

  • D1 describes a tooth brush designed to make a user, particularly an adult, aware of applying an excessive force while cleaning their teeth, which can seriously irritate the gums of the user. It has a pressure sensor which transmits a signal to a controller. As long as the measured pressure is below a pressure limit value, the controller supplies energy to a green LED to inform the user the the brush does not harm his gums. If the measured pressure exceeds the pressure limit value, the energy supply is switched to a red LED. The toothbrush has a length of 24 cm.
  • D2 describes an improved toothbrush for children. The bodies of toothbrushes for children are generally made from thermoplastic materials, such as a list of four specific materials; the bodies are made from three specific materials (a second list). As long as a child hold the toothbrush in his hand, a sensor transmits a signal to a controller which energizes a music module. It plays a melody over a loudspeaker, the vibrations of which are converted intro vibrations of the air. Has a replaceable brush. A toothbrush for children must have a total length of 13, 14,15 or 16 cm (a third list) in order to allow small children to hold the brush.
  • D3 relates to toothbrushes for human adults, and aims to provide toothbrushes which prevent that dental plaque remains on the teeth. It is based on the surprising effect that the amount of dental plaque removal can be increased by transmitting additional vibrations to the bristles of the toothbrush. The vibrations are generated by an electric vibrator in the toothbrush. The location of the vibrator directly below the bristles is mentioned to be required for optimum transmission of vibrations to the bristles. It shows a toothbrush having a total length of 24 cm.
  • D4's opening paragraph describes that zoo keepers need to clean the teeth of dangerous zoo animals such as tigers and lions on a regular basis. It has been surprisingly discovered that toothbrushes keep zoo animals calm during dental cleaning. Thereby, the zoo keeper's risk of being hurt during dental cleaning of dangerous zoo animals is significantly reduced. The toothbrush shown has a replaceable brush head, a push-button allowing a controller to act as switching means for turning on/off a vibrator located inside the brush head below the bristles. The minimum total length of the toothbrush is 40 cm, or the brush head has a much longer neck, in order to establish a safe distance between the animal and the zoo keeper.
  • D4's last paragraph describes that a long brush with minimum total length of 40 cm can be used for other purposes (than cleaning the teet of dangerous zoo animals). In a second embodiment , the vibrator is located in the handle of the brush, whereby the vibrations are perceived as pleasant when the brush is used for scratching a human's back while taking a shower (with or without the lion?).

The dates of the application (filed 1 March 2014), and the prior art documents D1 (published Nov 2013), D2 (published October 2013), D3 (published Nov 2013) and D4 (published Nov 2013) are given: all prior art documents D1- D4 are full Art.54(2) prior arts, and thus taken into account for novelty as well as inventive step.

The questions were related to three claim sets:

  • Q11-13 to a first claim set composed of an independent claim and one dependent claim directed to a body of a toothbrush for increased dental plaque removal, 
  • Q14-17 to a second claim set composed of one independent claim and 4 dependent claims directed to a brush with a body comprising an electrically operated element, the electrically operated element being an electrically operated vibrator, 
  • Q18-20 related to one independent claim directed to a toothbrush with a body, [...], a connection section, the electrically operated element being an electrically operated vibrator, the connection section comprising a connection hole and a connection protrusion, and the toothbrush having a total length of between 18 and 25 cm.

Tested is scope of the claims, distinguishing features, novelty, claim feature issues such as "for example", extension of subject-matter including introduction of a disclaimer (not allowed, D4 is not an Art.54(3) -- here it became clear why the dates were given), technical effects, formulation of two-part form, inventive step aspects such as closest prior art (surprisingly few questions about CPA), considering to combine, obviousness of combination.

Our provisional answers:

11: T T T T
12: T F F F
13: T F F T
14: T T T F
15: F F F F
16: F F F F
17: T F T T *
18: T F T F
19: F T F F **
20: F F F F ***

Remarks:
17: Amending the independent claim may give rise to Art.123(2) problems in the independent claim itself, or to the resulting dependent claims. The question does not specify what is done with the dependent claims while amending claim II - so, it is assumed they are untouched, and a check is required whether they are effected by the amendment to the independent claim.
* 17.1: all embodiments show a push button together with a controller for selectively supplying energy from the battery to the electrically operated element. [004] reads "In the present invention, the controller acts as a switching means for selectively supplying energy from the battery to the electrically operated element", So, it seems to violate Art.123(2) when specifying that the push button does so, as it seems the the controller does the job. However, Claim II.3 filed with the application explicitly says that the switching means can be a push button. Thus, Claim II.3 limited to the example therein is exactly the proposed amendment, and thus not violating Art.123(2). There seem to be no Art.123(2) problems with the remaining dependent claims either. (Note that Art.84 objections may arise as an essential element -the controller- is missing, due to the conflict with [004], as well an an unclarity between newly amended II and II.4; also note that embodiment 3 is not covered the amended claim.)
17.4: [004] says "Preferably, the electrically operated vibrator is located in the handle together with a controller and a battery". In all four embodiments, the electrically operated vibrator is located in the handle, together with controller and a battery. so both need to be in the claim too. The battery was already in Claim II, but not specified to be in the handle, and the controller is missing, So, the amendment would indeed be an intermediate generalisation.

** 19.2: initially answered F as I considered the vibrator in the neck of D3 to hamper the combination with the connection section of D2 , as the electric cable would need to go across. (D2 would be combined with D3 to allow the user to replace a worn-out brush head). But as some candidates pointed out, embodiment 3, D3 and D4 see no problem in getting electrical cables across such connection. I change the answer to T (7 March, 15:20)

*** 20.2: Although it is tempting to combine the two embodiments and adapting the first embodiment (a toothbrush) to replace its vibrator in the brush head the vibrator in the handle as shown in the second embodiment, this combination is not suggested not is there another incentive, The argumentation depends on how to interpret the "one's" in the statement. If it means brushing "a human's teeth" then the statement is F for several reasons: the first embodiment of D1 relates a toothbrush but for zoo animals, not humans, and it has the vibrator in the brush head, not in the handle; the second embodiment relates to a brush for human use, with the vibrator in the handle, but that is not a toothbrush but a brush for scratching a human's back; they relate to different uses (animals vs humans) and the second embodiment relates to a long brush for different purposes (different from teeth cleaning), so there is no incentive to combine the two embodiments.  If the "one's teeth" includes non-human teeth, only the last argument remains.

We look forward for your comments.

Note: the legal questions are discussed here, and general impressions are here.

(c) DeltaPatents 2017

Pre-Exam 2017: our answers to the legal part

Delta Patents Pre-Exam -

As last year and unlike the years before, the legal part tested many non-standard topics. Some topics were quite unexpected, such as interlocutory revision, interruption and second medical indication - even though some of those statements were not that difficult, the unfamiliarity with the topic made them difficult. Well-prepared candidates having good knowledge and knowing their material well for fast look-up should have been able to answer most of the statements correctly. I expect that, as last year, many candidates needed 2 hours for the legal part and the full 4 hours for the whole paper.

Our provisional answers for the legal questions:

1: F T F T
2: T T F T
3: F F T T
4: T F T F
5: F T F F
6: T T F T
7: F F T F
8: F F F T
9: F T F F
10: T T T T

Some remarks:

1.4: the state of the art is everything publicly available before the date of filing. It is not necessarily novelty-destroying! So the steel disclosure of Sept 2016 is prior art for the claim to copper, as the copper claim only benefits from the later filing date, 6 March 2017. It is however not novelty destroying.

3.4: the application is pending until, but not including, the date of the mention of the grant. The decision to grant shows the scheduled date of the mention of the grant, which is 4-5 weeks later – see e.g. this recent decision to grant: decision dated 02.02.2017, mention in bulletin 1.03.2017. So, EP4 is still pending for another 4-5 weeks after today.

5.4: GL E-XI, 7.4.2 gives examples as to when interlocutory revision will be granted

6.4: difficult to find explicitly. GL D-IV 1.2 and sub-paragraphs may have been of help. Or the flowcharts from our legal courses.

7.1: note that admissible does not imply nor mean allowable.

7.2: G 1/14

9.1: Swiss-type claim format no longer allowed for second medical indication

We look forward to your comments!

Note: the claims analysis questions are discussed here, and general impressions are here.

(c) DeltaPatents 2017

T 1768/11 - Almost destroyed the chance to present new requests with the statement of grounds

Delta Patents Patent Law -


In the Annex to the summons for oral proceedings, the Examining Division raised objections under Art. 84, 123(2) and 56 EPC.  The applicant responded by requesting "that instead of Oral Proceedings an appealable decision be issued based on the state of the file". The applicant neither commented on the substance of the communication nor submitted amended claims. After the Examining Division had issued the requested decision, the applicant filed the present appeal and, with its statement of grounds of appeal, replaced its sole substantive request with a new main request and first and second auxiliary request. The applicant hereby took a major risk: when wanting to file new requests, the proper reaction would have been to comment on the objections and file amended claims in first instance proceedings, as Art. 12(4) Rule of Procedure of the Board of Appeal allows the Board to held requests inadmissible that could -and should- have been presented in first instance. Luckily, the Board decided to exercise this discretionary power in the appellant's favour and to admit them into the proceedings (... but they failed on Art.123(2) and 84).

Summary of Facts and Submissions

I. The applicant (appellant) appealed against the decision of the Examining Division refusing European patent application No. 03774370.5, which was filed as international application PCT/KR2003/002627 and published as WO 2004/053870.

II. The decision was issued as a so-called "decision on the state of the file" on EPO Form 2061 in response to a corresponding request by the appellant filed by letter of 8 March 2011. For the reasons for the refusal the form referred to the communications of the Examining Division dated 2 June 2008 and 7 December 2010.

The communication dated 2 June 2008 was based on the claims "as published". It cited documents D1, D2 and D3 and raised objections under Articles 54, 56 and 84 EPC.

The communication dated 7 December 2010 was based on claims 1 to 11 filed with the letter of 2 October 2008 and was annexed to a summons to oral proceedings. It cited a document D10 and raised the following objections:

- the feature added to claim 1 as published infringed Article 123(2) EPC;
- the same feature of claim 1 violated Article 84 EPC;
- claim 1 lacked an essential feature, contrary to Article 84 EPC;
- the subject-matter of claim 1 lacked inventive step over a combination of documents D10 and D3; and
- the same objection of lack of inventive step applied to the subject-matter of corresponding independent claims 5 and 9.

III. With the statement of grounds of appeal, the appellant submitted a main request and first and second auxiliary requests.

IV. In a communication accompanying a summons to oral proceedings, the Board questioned whether the statement of grounds of appeal was sufficiently substantiated and whether the newly filed requests should be admitted into the proceedings. It further expressed the preliminary view that independent claims 1, 5 and 9 of the main request and of the first auxiliary request and independent claim 5 of the second auxiliary request infringed Articles 84 and 123(2) EPC and that the subject-matter of the independent claims of each request lacked inventive step.

V. With a letter dated 9 January 2017, the appellant filed an amended main request and amended first and second auxiliary requests and informed the Board that it would not be represented at the oral proceedings.

VI. Oral proceedings were held on 7 February 2017 in the appellant's absence. At the end of the oral proceedings, the chairman pronounced the Board's decision.

VII. The appellant requested that the decision under appeal be set aside and that a patent be granted on the basis of the claims of the main request or, in the alternative, on the basis of the claims of one of the first and second auxiliary requests. Alternatively, the appellant requested "allowance of the application based on such other claim set it approves that the Board of Appeal will allow" (see page 3 of the statement of grounds of appeal).

VIII. Claim 5 of the main request reads as follows:

"A method of recording information on and/or reproducing information from an information storage medium, the method comprising: [...]."

Claim 5 of each of the first and second auxiliary requests is identical to claim 5 of the main request.

IX. The appellant's arguments as relevant to the decision are discussed in detail below.

Reasons for the Decision

1. Admissibility of the appeal

1.1 According to Rule 99(2) EPC, the statement of grounds of appeal is to indicate the reasons for setting aside the decision impugned. If this requirement is not complied with before expiry of the time limit for filing the statement of grounds of appeal, the appeal is to be rejected as inadmissible (Rule 101(1) EPC). For the statement of grounds of appeal to comply with Rule 99(2) EPC, it should address in sufficient detail each of the grounds for the decision (see decision T 305/11 of 26 April 2016, reasons 1.1, and the decisions cited there). In principle, a ground for refusal can be addressed by arguing why the objection raised was incorrect or by amending the application and explaining why the objection is no longer relevant.

1.2 In the present case, one of the grounds for refusal is lack of inventive step in the subject-matter of independent claims 1, 5 and 9 of the set of claims filed with the letter of 2 October 2008. With the statement of grounds of appeal, the appellant amended these claims in accordance with a main request and first and second auxiliary requests and submitted arguments in support of inventive step. These arguments fully rely on the feature "the information storage medium is a read-only storage medium" added to independent claims 1 and 9 of each request. Independent claim 5 of each request, however, was identical to claim 5 of the set of claims filed with the letter of 2 October 2008 and did not include this feature. Hence, it could be argued that the statement of grounds of appeal fails to address the lack of inventive step objection raised against claim 5.

1.3 At the same time, it is apparent that the appellant, when preparing the statement of grounds and the replacement application documents, must have overlooked the fact that its claims included an independent claim 5 in addition to independent claims 1 and 9. In fact, not only did the appellant fail to add a limitation to a read-only storage medium to claim 5 of all requests, but it also forgot to apply to claim 5 of the two auxiliary requests any of the other amendments that it did make to independent claims 1 and 9 of those requests. In its letter of 9 January 2017, the appellant confirmed that it had overlooked independent claim 5.

1.4 Thus, it is evident from the statement of grounds of appeal how the appellant intended to overcome the lack of inventive step objections raised against all independent claims. The Board considers, therefore, that the statement of grounds of appeal does address these grounds for refusal in sufficient detail.

1.5 As the statement of grounds of appeal also addresses the remaining grounds for refusal of the set of claims filed with the letter of 2 October 2008, namely by giving arguments why the objections under Articles 84 and 123(2) EPC were not justified, the appeal is sufficiently substantiated.

1.6 The appeal also complies with the other provisions referred to in Rule 101 EPC. It is therefore admissible.

2. The decision under appeal

2.1 According to the contested decision, the applicant was informed in the communications dated 2 June 2008 and 7 December 2010 of the reasons why the application did not meet the requirements of the EPC. This can only be taken to mean that the grounds for refusal are the objections raised in those two communications.

The communication dated 2 June 2008 was based on the claims (and other application documents) "as published" and contained objections under Articles 54, 56 and 84 EPC. By letter of 2 October 2008, the applicant replaced the claims as published with a set of amended claims 1 to 11. The objections raised in the communication of 2 June 2008, which form part of the grounds for refusal, are thus based on a text that was no longer approved by the applicant. This is in violation of Article 113(2) EPC, which requires the EPO to decide on a European patent application only in the text submitted to it, or agreed by, the applicant.

2.2 In the present case it can be deduced from the file that the Examining Division intended to refuse the application for the reasons given in the communication dated 7 December 2010. That communication was self-contained and clearly identified both the text on which it was based and the objections being raised. Furthermore, it is apparent from the statement of grounds of appeal, which refers only to the "Summons dated 7 December 2010" and the objections raised therein, that the appellant had not been confused by the superfluous and incorrect reference to the communication of 2 June 2008. The Board therefore considers that, despite the fundamental character of Article 113(2) EPC, an immediate remittal to the Examining Division would serve no purpose.

3. Admission of the main request and first and second auxiliary requests

3.1 In its communication, the Board expressed concerns as to whether the main request and first and second auxiliary requests filed with the statement of grounds of appeal should be admitted into the proceedings under Article 12(4) RPBA. These concerns are still valid for the current main request and first and second auxiliary requests, which were obtained from the previous requests by including in claim 5 of each request a feature specifying that the information storage medium is a read-only information storage medium.

3.2 The Examining Division's communication of 7 December 2010 was annexed to a summons to oral proceedings. By letter of 8 March 2011, the appellant responded by requesting "that instead of Oral Proceedings an appealable decision be issued based on the state of the file". The appellant neither commented on the substance of the communication of 7 December 2010 nor submitted amended claims.

After the Examining Division had issued the requested decision, the appellant filed the present appeal and, with its statement of grounds of appeal, replaced its sole substantive request with a new main request and first and second auxiliary requests.

3.3 Requesting a "decision on the state of the file" instead of responding in substance to objections raised in a communication may be a proper course of action where, for example, the applicant considers that the application is in an allowable state and all arguments have been sufficiently put forward (cf. Guidelines for Examination, E-IX, 4.4). But in the present case, the Examining Division's communication of 7 December 2010 had raised new objections and introduced a new prior-art document. Instead of responding to those objections with substantive submissions, the appellant chose to request a decision on the state of the file and to file an appeal. Only with the statement of grounds of appeal did the appellant, for the first time, respond in substance to the Examining Division's new objections.

3.4 According to Article 12(4) RPBA, a board of appeal has the power to hold inadmissible facts, evidence or requests which could have been presented or were not admitted in the first-instance proceedings.

This provision reflects the principle that appeal proceedings are not intended as a continuation, let alone a replacement, of the first-instance proceedings. Parties to EPO proceedings are not at liberty to forgo the proceedings before a department of first instance and take their case directly to a board of appeal for further prosecution. They can rely on the boards of appeal for a judicial review of the first-instance decision, not for a continued full examination of the merits of the application.

3.5 Upon receiving the Examining Division's summons to oral proceedings, the appellant was in the same position as later when it filed the statement of grounds of appeal; the decision to refuse the application merely confirmed the objections previously communicated. Thus the appellant should have realised that the newly raised objections necessitated the filing of amended requests. It also had the opportunity to file such requests before the date fixed by the Examining Division under Rule 116 EPC. Yet it refrained from doing so. It appears that the appellant preferred to discontinue the still-ongoing proceedings before the Examining Division and to prosecute its case instead directly before the Board. But Article 12(4) RPBA is intended to prevent just that.

3.6 Thus, the present case is one where the appellant could - and should - have presented its new requests in the first-instance proceedings, and consequently the Board may exercise its power under Article 12(4) RPBA to hold them inadmissible (see also decisions T 1212/08 of 13 January 2012, reasons 4.1 to 4.7; T 1108/10 of 9 March 2012, reasons 3.2.1 to 3.2.5; and T 1178/08 of 9 May 2012, reasons 2.6 to 2.6.4). Nevertheless, since the requests now on file present the Board with no difficulties, it decides to exercise this discretionary power in the appellant's favour and to admit them into the proceedings.

4. The invention

The invention is related to an information storage medium and a method of reproducing information recorded thereon. As explained in the background section of the application, a known recordable information storage medium such as a CD-R or a CD-RW includes user data areas and additional areas serving as spare areas located before and after the user data areas (page 1, last paragraph, to page 2, first paragraph, of the published application). To improve the ability of reproducing systems to differentiate between additional data areas and user data areas, the invention proposes including second sync patterns in the additional data areas which are different from first sync patterns included in the user data areas (page 3, last paragraph, to page 4, second full paragraph). The invention as presently claimed is limited to a "read-only storage medium".

5. All requests - added subject-matter and clarity

5.1 Claim 5 is identical in all requests and includes the feature "the additional data area is configured for compatibility in different formatted information storage media". As a basis for this feature, the appellant relies on the phrase "can maintain consistency with the formats of different types" appearing on page 9, lines 1 to 5, of the published application and in the paragraph bridging pages 7 and 8.

5.2  [...].

Since the Board has not been able to identify any other passage in the application as filed that could serve as a basis for the feature, it considers that the subject-matter of claim 5 extends beyond the content of the application as filed.

5.3 In addition, it is unclear what is meant by compatibility "in" different formatted information storage media. It is also not clear whether it is "the additional data area" that is made compatible or the information storage medium that includes the additional data area.

Furthermore, even if the feature were to be interpreted contrary to its wording as meaning that the information storage medium is somehow compatible with other (known?) types of information storage media, the claim would remain unclear both because those other types are left completely unspecified (apart from being "different") and because the claim fails to state in what precise technical sense they are "compatible" and by what specific technical measures that compatibility is achieved. In this respect, the appellant's arguments that "compatibility simply means it can work with others and different information storage media just means ones that are simply different" fail to persuade the Board.

5.4 Hence, the main request and the first and second auxiliary requests infringe Articles 123(2) and 84 EPC.

6. As to the appellant's request for "allowance of the application based on such other claim set it approves that the Board of Appeal will allow", it is not the Board's task to formulate the appellant's claims.

7. Conclusion

Since none of the requests on file is allowable, the appeal is to be dismissed.

Order

For these reasons it is decided that:

The appeal is dismissed.

This decision 1768/11 (pdf) has European Case Law Identifier:  EECLI:EP:BA:2017:T176811.20170207. The file wrapper can be found here. Photo "homework ritual" by woodleywonderworks obtained via Flickr under CC BY 2.0 license (no changes made).

D 2017: first impressions?

Delta Patents paper D -

To all who sat the D-paper today:

What are your first impressions to this year's D-paper? Any general or specific comments?

Were the topics well balanced in the DI-part?
Was the balance between EPC and PCT right for you? Substantive topics in DI?
Which of the the DI Questions did you consider particularly difficult, and which relatively 'easy'?
Did you skip any DI-questions? if so, why? Too difficult, or allocating the time for another question?

Were the legal issues in the DII-part well doable? Patentability? Difficult priority analysis? Business situation and relevance clear? Exploitation?
Did errors with one of the legal issues or one of the patentability issues in DII have a big knock-on effect on the rest of the paper in your view (the D papers of the last four years were very well designed in this respect!)?

How much time did you allocate for DI, how much for DII?
Which part did you do first, DI or DII?
How many marks do you expect to have scored in the DI-part, in the DII-part, and for the whole D?
What is your expectation of the pass rate and the average score?
How did this year's D-paper compare to the D2013, D2014, D2015 and D 2016 (assuming your practiced those) - DI and DII-wise?

How did you use the extra 30 minutes that were available? Did you work longer on the DI or on the DII? How many marks do you expect to have scored extra thanks to those 30 minutes?

The paper and our answers

Copies of the D-paper will be provided on this blog as soon as we have received copies of the papers, in all three languages here (English, French and German).

The core of our answers will be given as soon as possible in two separate blog posts: one for the DI-questions and another post for the DII-part.

We look forward to your comments!
Comments are welcome in any official EPO language, not just English. So, comments in German and French are also very welcome!

Please do not post your comments anonymously - it is allowed, but it makes responding more difficult and rather clumsy ("Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Anonymous of 03-03-2017 03:03"), whereas using your real name or a pseudonym is more personal, more interesting and makes a more attractive conversation. You do not need to log in or make an account - it is OK to just put your (nick) name at the end of your post.

Please post your comments as to first impressions and general remarks to the D-paper as a whole, and to the two parts (DI and DII) as whole part to this blog.


Please post substantial questions to specific DI questions to our DI post (once available) and DII-related questions to our DII post (once available). Thanks!

Pre-Exam 2017: first impressions?

Delta Patents Pre-Exam -

To all who sat the Pre-Exam today:
What are your first impressions to this year's Pre-Exam? Any general or specific comments?
Were the legal topics well balanced?
Were the various aspects of claims analysis well balanced?
Was the balance between EPC and PCT right for you?
Which of the legal questions did you consider particularly difficult, and which relatively 'easy'?
How much time did you allocate for the legal questions, how much for the claims analysis part? Did you deviate from our original plan (for example, took more time for the legal questions than planned)?
Which part did you do first, the legal part or the claims analysis?
How many marks do you expect to have scored in the legal part, in the claims analysis, and for the whole paper?
What is your expectation of the pass rate and the average score?
How did this year's paper compare to the earlier pre-exams of 2012-2016 (assuming your practiced those) w.r.t. the pre-exam as a whole, w.r.t. the legal part and w.r.t. the claims analysis part? In particular, how did it compare to 2015 and 2016?

The paper and our answers
Copies of the paper will be provided on this blog as soon as we have received copies of the paper (English, French and German).

The core of our answers will be given as soon as possible in two separate blog posts:one for the legal questions and the another post for the claims analysis part.

We look forward to your comments!
Comments are welcome in any official EPO language, not just English. So, comments in German and French are also very welcome!

Please do not post your comments anonymously - it is allowed, but it makes responding more difficult and rather clumsy ("Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Anonymous of 13-13-2017 13:13"), whereas using your real name or a pseudonym is more personal, more interesting and makes a more attractive conversation. You do not need to log in or make an account - it is OK to just put your (nick) name at the end of your post.

Please post your comments as to first impressions and general remarks to the Pre-Exam paper as a whole, and to the two parts (legal part and claims analysis) as whole parts to this blog.Please post substantial questions to specific legal questions to our post with our answers (as soon as available) and claims analysis related questions to our post for that part (as soon as available). 

Thanks!

T 145/13 - Non-enabled document in a non-unity objection

Delta Patents Patent Law -


Can a non-enabled document be used in a non-unity objection? In 2004 the applicant filed an international application with 73 claims. The written opinion of the US ISA searched all claims and does not raise a lack of unity objection. The european phase is entered with a reduced number of 55 claims, but the supplementary European search report is less positive than its US counterpart. It finds a-posteriori non-unity and identifies 7 groups of inventions. The Examining division does not admit a first auxiliary request, filed during oral proceedings, because it relates to unsearched subject matter, Rule 137(5).

The appeal board disagrees. It finds that R.137(5) does not apply since the request corresponds to a combination of the original claims. R.164(2) does not apply since the cited document is not enabled, and is thus unsuited to support a lack of unity objection. 



Summary of Facts and Submissions
(...)
IV. The wording of independent claim 1 of the main request is as follows:
"1. An automotive equipment control system (400, 1000), comprising:
at least one imager (405, 537, 637, 737, 737, 901) comprising at least one image sensor (765, 901) for acquiring an image;
a processor (930) configured to analyse the image, the processor being a field-programmable gate array;
a main processor (420, 508, 808, 902, 1008) making a control decision in order to automatically perform a vehicle equipment related function based on information communicated from the processor (930) configured to analyze the image; and
an interconnection enabled to utilize LVDS to transmit data between the image sensor (765, 901) and the processor (930) for analysing the image,
wherein the automatic vehicle equipment control system is at least one of an adaptive cruise control, collision warning or avoidance, exterior light control imaging, blind spot warning and night vision."
(...)
Reasons for the Decision
1. Main request
1.1 Rule 137(5) EPC
1.1.1 The claims of the main request are those of the first auxiliary request before the examining division. In the decision, the division held that this request was not accepted into the procedure for violation of Rule 137(5) EPC, because the features "adaptive cruise control", "collision warning or avoidance", "exterior light control imaging", "blind spot warning" and "night vision" of claim 1 of this request formerly constituted the fifth and unsearched invention as identified in the supplementary European search report (see point 5 of the decision).
1.1.2 The appellant argued that each of the features pointed out by the examining division related to a further limitation of the searched automotive equipment control system. Since this had been searched, the further limitations also had to be considered searched subject-matter. Hence, the claims of the present main request had to be admitted into the proceedings.
1.1.3 The board notes that, since the supplementary European search report of the application was drawn up after 1 April 2010, in the present case Rule 137 EPC in the version as amended with decision of the Administrative Council of 25 March 2009 applies (OJ EPO 2009, 299). The first sentence of Rule 137(5) EPC in this version is identical with Rule 86(4) EPC 1973, which was intro­duced into the Implementing Regulations of the EPC in order to avoid that an applicant switches - e. g. by way of incor­po­rating a feature from the description - to unsearched subject-matter which was not claimed at the search stage (see the decision T 442/11 of the Boards of Appeal, Reason 2.2.2).
However, in the present case the subject-matter of claim 1 of the main request corresponds essentially to the combination of the features of claims 7, 8, and 30 underlying the supplementary search report (filed with the entry into the European phase on 21 Septem­ber 2005). Therefore, the claims cannot be considered as having been amended in such a way that they relate to unsearched subject-matter which does not combine with parts of the originally claimed invention to form a single general inventive concept. Rule 137(5) EPC is therefore not contravened.
This is in line with the reasoning of the decisions of the Boards of Appeal T 507/11 (see Reasons 1.1 to 1.3), T 1285/11 (see Reason 2), T 1981/12 (see Reasons 4.1 to 4.5), and T 998/14 (see Reasons 1.1 to 1.3) dealing with similar circumstances.
(Note by SMR: claims 1, 7, 8 and 30 of the application as it entered the European phase were:

 1. An automatic vehicle equipment control system, comprising: at least one imager comprising at least one image sensor and at least one other component selected from the group comprising: at least one temperature sensor, at least one control output and at least one low voltage differential signal transceiver; at least one enhanced transceiver; and at least one interconnection between said at least one imager and said at least one enhanced transceiver. 

7. An automatic vehicle equipment control system, comprising: an imager comprising an image sensor and at least one other component selected from the group comprising: at least one control output and at least one low voltage differential signal transceiver.

8. An automatic vehicle equipment control system as in claim 7 wherein said imager further comprises at least one additional component selected from the group comprising: at least one temperature sensor, at least one voltage regulator, at least one image sensor logic and control circuit and at least one analog-to-digital converter.  

30.  An automatic vehicle equipment control system as in claim 7, 8 or 25 configured to automatically control at least one piece of equipment selected from the group comprising: an exterior light, a moisture senor, a windshield wiper, a defogger, a lane departure warning, an accident avoidance system, an accident reconstruction system, an adaptive cruse control system, a security system, an occupant detection system, a cabin monitoring system, a rear vision system and a blind spot vision system. )

1.2 Rule 164(2) EPC
1.2.1 The board further notes that for the present Euro-PCT application, Rule 164(2) EPC is also relevant, namely in the version as amended with decision of the Administrative Council of 27 Octo­ber 2009, which applies to the present case (OJ 2009, 582).
It is the intention of the second alternative of Rule 164(2) EPC to prevent the applicant from switching during the grant proceedings from searched subject-matter to ­subject-matter which had originally been claimed but not searched due to non-payment of the additional search fee (see T 442/11, Reason 2.3.2).
1.2.2 As indicated above, the subject-matter of claim 1 of the first auxiliary request corresponds essentially to the combination of the features of claims 7, 8, and 30 underlying the supplementary search report, which was attributed in the supplementary European search report to the fifth invention and thus not searched.
Therefore, it has to be assessed whether it was justified not to search said fifth invention in preparation of the supplementary European search report. In the decision there is no justification in this respect (see point 5 of the Reasons). In "Sheet B" of the supplementary search report the claims were considered to lack unity a posteriori in view of document D1, which was considered to disclose the subject-matter of claim 1.
Claims 1-3, 7-11, 17-21, 23-29, 36, 37, 40, 41, 49, and 50 underlying the supplementary search report were attributed to the first invention with the special technical feature of a dual port memory specified in claim 2, which was considered to solve the objective technical problem of providing "a transceiver with a memory so that it can be accessed at two ports".
Claims 30-35, 42, 45 underlying the supplementary search report were attributed to the fifth invention with the special technical feature of a device type to be controlled by the automatic vehicle control system, which was considered to solve the objective technical problem of providing an "automatic vehicle control system which is able to control a device of a special type".
With reference to document D1, page 25, right-hand column, para­graph 5, document D1 was considered to disclose an auto­matic vehicle equipment control system. In the cited paragraph the following is stated: "As the CMOS image sensor array technology evolves, and process line widths continue to decrease, we expect to see [...] (5) low-cost, low-resolution sensors that allow intelligent machine vision functions to be added to consumer items such as automobiles and home appli­ances" (emphasis by the board). This statement is merely an outlook on various possible future developments. There is no enabling disclosure in document D1 concerning these conjectured developments at all. Moreover, it is not even mentioned what role the sensors could play in the automobile, in particular there is no indication that the sensors could be used in a vehicle equipment control system. Document D1 is therefore not considered to disclose an auto­matic vehicle equipment control system. This feature can therefore be considered an inventive concept joining the first and fifth invention as subdivided in "Sheet B" of the supplementary search report.
Therefore, it cannot be considered justified that the fifth invention indicated in the supplementary search report was not searched in preparation of the European supplementary search.
1.2.3 Consequently, the provisions of Rule 164(2) EPC cannot be invoked against the amendments in relation to the claims of the main request, either (see also T 442/11, Reasons 2.3 and 2.4).
2. Conclusion
In view of the above, the application is to be remitted to the examining division (Article 111(1) EPC 1973) for further prosecution involving, if necessary, a further search.
Order
For these reasons it is decided that:
1. The decision under appeal is set aside.
2. The case is remitted to the department of first instance for further prosecution.
This decision T 0145/13 (pdf)  has European Case Law Identifier: ECLI:EP:BA:2017:T014513.20170210. The file wrapper can be found here. Photo by myrfa obtained via Pixabay under a CC0  license (no changes made).

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