Distinguishing between a technical feature and a representation of information
Managing IP is part of the Delinian Group, Delinian Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX, Registered in England & Wales, Company number 00954730
Copyright © Delinian Limited and its affiliated companies 2023

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

Each week Managing IP speaks to a different IP practitioner about their life and career
Mathys & Squire has filed a test case that the firm hopes will make UPC pleadings available by default
Multiple representatives and their teams can now work on cases using the online CMS, but not everyone can submit documents
James Lawrence, partner at Addisons, explains how he convinced the full Federal Court of Australia to back his client in a patent dispute concerning mining safety equipment
The deal will allow the companies to use each other’s patents covering 4G and 5G technologies, and other cellular SEPs
We provide a rundown of Managing IP’s news and analysis coverage from the week, and review what’s been happening elsewhere in IP
Three lead IP counsel in the US, the UK and China share how they walk the fine line between building in-house competence and splurging on external lawyers
Mike Renaud, head of the IP division at Mintz, explains his business strategy and how the firm justifies charging higher rates
Sources say firms must build relationships with clients that transcend their connections to individual partners
INTA’s resolution on online marketplaces and appointment of Amazon’s general counsel follow calls for the association to take a direct position on internet fakes