Only technical features can form an “invention” in Germany

von Bastian Best

With the decision Display of Topographic Information the Federal Court of Justice (FCJ) continued its examination methodology for software-related inventions laid out in the Dynamical Generation of Documents decision. In addition, the FCJ held that inventive step (the third hurdle of the German three-step approach) can only be based on the technical features of a patent claim.

The invention

The case to be decided related to a European patent on a method for the perspective display of a part of a topographic map. Claim 1 to be assessed read as follows:

A method for the perspective display of a part of a topographic map by

selecting, in dependence of a position (c) of a vehicle, topographic information from a data structure,

where under the influence of a coordinate transformation the display takes place according to a viewing position (k) which moves together with the position (c) of the vehicle and with a solid angle (g) that takes into account the instantaneous motion of the vehicle,

characterized in that for an earthbound vehicle the viewing position is above the earth and above and behind the vehicle and the solid angle (g) contains an actual simulated position of the vehicle itself, wherein the display is provided according to a principal viewing direction which includes an acute angle with respect to the surface of the earth.

The claimed invention aimed at improving the navigating of a vehicle by providing topographic information of the vehicle’s surrounding in visual form. More precisely, the gist of claim 1 concerned the display of a map in a way that on the one hand takes into account the orientation and movement of the vehicle and on the other hand provides a bird’s eye perspective of the vehicle’s surrounding ...

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