Software patents in Germany: Challenging times for software inventions – Webpage display

von Bastian Best
Fig. 2 of DE 101 15 895 C1

The Federal Court of Justice (FCJ)’s decision Webpage Display is currently the latest landmark decision dealing with the general methodology behind the patentability of software-related inventions. It establishes the German three-step examination approach and thereby systematically deviates from the two-step approach established at the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO). At the same time, this decision has considerably raised the bar with respect to the exclusion from patentability as computer program “as such”.

The German patent DE 101 15 895 C1 underlying this decision related to a method for generating a displayable presentation for relocating an information page that has been called up by a user from a homepage and which has subsequently been exited. The overall concept was essentially to monitor the sequence of visited (sub)pages of a complex website in order to facilitate the return of the user to a certain page of the website.

Claim 1 of the patent reads in an English translation:

A method for generating a display for the recovery of an information page that has been accessed from a homepage of an information provider and which has subsequently been exited, which is accessible via Internet, an intranet or an extranet, wherein the method comprises the following steps performed by the server:

(a) registering a user during access to the homepage;

(b) registering the information pages of the information provider accessed by the user directly or indirectly from the homepage; and

(c) generating a displayable presentation which reflects the sequence of the information pages of the information provider accessed by the user.

The Federal Patent Court had revoked the patent based on the argument that the claimed method was not an invention in a field of technology and was hence excluded from patent protection ...

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