Wednesday, February 29, 2012
In continuation of our previous post on section 3(k), this part discusses the other two section 3(k) cases. For ease of readability, the entire post was carved in two separate parts. Part 2 of 2 follows: Warning: Long post:
Before analyzing each decision, section (k) of our patent act is reproduced (with added emphasis) for ready reference.
“3. What are not inventions: The following are not inventions within the meaning of this Act, —
…(k) a mathematical or business method or a computer programme per se or algorithms;”
1. A device (10) for storing personal profiles and for controlling the access, from a plurality of remote entities (16, 18, 20) within a telecommunication network supporting a plurality of services, to
databases storing said personal profiles, characterised in that said device (10) comprises a first plurality of databases (44, 46, 48) and interfaces (24, 26) for managing and centrally controlling the access, from any of said remote entities (16, 18, 20), to said first plurality of databases (44, 46, 48) and to a second plurality of databases (50), said interfaces (24, 26) comprising:
a plurality of adapters (20) toward said first (44, 46, 48) and second (50) plurality of databases, each adapter being customized to a particular typology of database and adapted to allow the access to said
first and second plurality of databases independently from the typology of database;
a plurality of application interfaces (28) toward said plurality of remote entities (16, 18, 20) able to manage different mechanisms for accessing databases;
an authentication unit (52), for identification of said remote entities;
an authorization unit (37) for authorizing said remote entities (16, 18, 20) to use said adapters (26), by means of the verification of requirements and the management of a corresponding authorization to use;
an accounting unit (36) for tracking the accesses to said first (44, 46, 48) and second (50) plurality of databases.
This claim makes clear reference to devices, and more importantly provides use of each of the devices, when dealing with databases. The claim, clears the initial threshold that the invention is for software even though databases are discussed. The Controller here recognizes that claims still require further qualification re the term devices and directs the applicant to include narrowing language. “....amended to further qualify “device” (10) with its inbuilt or associated technical features e.g. server, processor, memories etc. together with their couplings so as to provide for the workability of the inventive device. The Controller denies other claims related to telecommunication network. This claim, in my opinion, apart from having the correct terminology, shows that it not software/computer programme per se by including the necessary transformation of the database. In addition, it satisfies the ‘per se’ test because the desired ‘effect’ is achieved.
1. A multi-layer graphical user interface method, comprising the steps of:
Rendering in a conventional manner one or more computer file objects of a first type (24) in a layer of a display area within a computer space (22); and
rendering in a de-emphasized manner one or more objects of a second type (930) that are different from the first type (24) in another layer of the display area,
Wherein at least one of the one or more objects of the second Type represents users who share the computer space (22) and also Functions as a control for accessing a user interface to modify represented user’s access rights to the one or more computer file objects of the first type without a need to change a separate view or application, and wherein the de-emphasized rendering comprises at least one of dimming, blurring, fading, shading, broken lines and water marking of the one or more objects of the second type relative to the conventional rendering.
This claim is not a clear cut case of falling under the software per se rule because at least some transformations are done to an interface. Here the ‘technical effect’ seems to have been ignored. There are no devices that are described in the claim. The Controller cites to multiple US references that in their claim have some discussion about icons or graphical user interface; and does the obviousness analysis correctly, but fails to see that the references do discuss that it GUIs or their creation and manipulation are not software per se. The Controller reasons:
“For the purpose of illustration, it is stated that a Computer programs are a set of instructions for controlling a sequence of operations of a data processing system and are called a Computer program per se. The claims relating to software program products are also nothing but a computer Program per se, which is simply expressed on a computer readable storage medium and as such are not allowable. It closely resembles a mathematical method. It may be expressed in various forms i.e. a series of verbal statements, a flow chart, an algorithm, or other coded form and may be presented in a form suitable for direct entry in to a particular computer system, or may require transcription in to a different format (Computer language). For example, if the new feature comprises a set of instructions (Computer program) designed to control a known computer to cause it to perform desired operations, without special adoption or modification of its hardware components, then no matter whether claimed as “Computing Device ” or as “A multi-layer graphical user interface method is not patentable as per section 3 (k) of Patent Act 1970.” Emphasis added.
This, in my opinion, is incorrect application of the law. Section 3(k) bars Computer programs per se. The Controller has failed to explain why the claims are computer programs per se.
Two reasons support my conclusion: (a) Partial application of law-Definition of per se should also be included while deciding on the claims; (b) The test of computer program per se should be the one used at the IPO, because India has adopted the European practice for section 3(k). Given that there is a technical effect, the claim passes that hurdle. A method implemented in a computer system represents a sequence of steps actually performed and achieving an effect, and not a sequence of computer-executable instructions (i.e. a computer program) which just have the potential of achieving such an effect when loaded into, and run on, a computer. See decision of the Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office in case T 0411/03 involving Microsoft. I agree with the Controller on the obviousness analysis.