Patent Protection of Graphical User Interfaces in Europe

On the occasion of the recent ECJ judgement (C-393/09) on copyright protection of GUIs (see earlier posting), I want to briefly review the relevant case law of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO regarding patent protection of graphical user interfaces, which has to be considered against the background of Art. 52 (2), (3) EPC, requiring that "programs for computers" and "presentation of information" as such shall not be regarded as patentable inventions. Below please find a short survey covering the most relevant decisions I got aware of during my search in the EPO's decision database, the "Case law of the boards of appeal (6th edition, 2010)" and this recommendable book of four EPO patent examiners (see book reviews here and here). Business Information System: One of the most recent cases involving GUI's appears to be T 528/07, decided on 27 April 2010, which has also been discussed in an earlier posting on this blog. Refused claim 1 relates to a computer system (a so called "business-to-business relationship portal") comprising a computer network with a server and a plurality of clients. The server can create a graphical user interface on a display of a client, including links to application programs and info boxes ("channels") for displaying aggregated data from the application programs, in order to facilitate the exchange of information between business parties by presenting "business opportunity information" to permitted users, e.g. company background information or financial information. Claim 1 thus basically relates to displaying of (business-related) information via a server-controlled GUI on a client computer. As required according the established Comvik approach for examining inventive step of mixed-type claims, Appeal Board 3.5.01 under Chairman Wibergh had to assess whether this feature is of technical nature and thus may contribute to inventive step (cf. T 641/00) ...Zum vollständigen Artikel

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