Distinguishing between a technical feature and a representation of information
Managing IP is part of Legal Benchmarking Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX
Copyright © Legal Benchmarking Limited and its affiliated companies 2024

Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

Distinguishing between a technical feature and a representation of information

Sponsored by

Digital transformation conceptual for next generation technology era

In the present case, the German Federal Court of Justice again had to deal with the question of how a representation of information within the meaning of Article 52(2)(d) EPC is to be distinguished from a technical feature.

The patent in dispute concerned a user interface for an electronic device with a screen on which a decentralised rotating menu could be displayed.

The rotating menu and its decentralised arrangement were of crucial importance for user-friendliness. Such an arrangement allows an individual to turn at least one menu item away from the display at any time. This makes it possible to add any number of menu items without having to change the format of the displayed items. This can be achieved, in particular, by keeping the number of menu items shown on the display constant, regardless of the total number of menu items available.

It was questionable whether the claimed type of display for a selection menu on a screen could be regarded as a technical feature.

This is because a representation of information as such is not eligible for patent protection (cf. Article 52(2)(d) EPC). Thus, features which are not technical must be disregarded as not being technical if they concern precisely the presentation of certain contents and therefore aim to have an effect on the human imagination. Furthermore, features according to which certain contents are emphasised by deviations in colour, brightness or the like are also not to be taken into consideration in the examination of inventive step.

Instructions which concern the (visual) representation of information, but which do not focus on the presentation of certain contents or their presentation in a particular way serve to solve a technical problem with technical means and must be taken into account when assessing inventive step. They must focus on the presentation of the image contents in a way which takes into account the qualities of human perception and reception of information and must be aimed at making the perception of the information by humans in a certain way possible, improving it or making it useful (BGH, GRUR 2015, 660 marginal no. 35 - image stream). Furthermore, a feature relating to the reproduction of information must be taken into account if and to the extent that it constitutes a means of achieving a specific technical effect (BGH, GRUR 2015, 1184 marginal 18 - unblocking picture).

In light of these principles, the senate concluded that the presentation of the menu as rotating was limited to a mere representation of information.

Stefan Bianchin

more from across site and ros bottom lb

More from across our site

Mark Lemley explains how his firm helped secure a precedential victory in a design patent case involving spare automobile parts
A historic treaty on traditional knowledge and genetic resources, which could have ramifications for patent applicants and their representatives, has been agreed
Ahead of the first anniversary of the UPC, practitioners share how the court has kept them busy and look ahead to emerging trends
Three counsel who joined Boies Schiller explain why the firm will help them advise both plaintiffs and defendants
The Grand Board said the applied-for mark would ‘trivialise’ one of the deadliest pandemics in history
Tim Chen Saulsbury explains why single-craft artisans inspire him and how, even at home, he’s never too far from another IP lawyer
The firm also plans to build an entertainment practice group and up its IP and antitrust offerings with a focus on foreign clients
An intimate understanding of a client’s sector is essential to winning new business, a survey of over 28,000 corporate counsel reveals
Counsel say a Federal Circuit ruling on the obviousness test for design patents may increase the time IP owners spend defending their rights
With INTA Annual Meeting over for another year, here are a few things Managing IP learned after attending IP’s biggest party
Gift this article