Review of EPO Board of Appeal Decisions in 2017 Relating to Software Inventions
2017 was a year of change for the Boards of Appeal of the EPO: a new President and a move out of the EPO's oldest building in the centre of Munich to a suburb, Haar. There has been some recruitment, but overall it appears there are still many vacancies on various Boards. Overall the relevant Boards issued 10% more decisions than in 2016 and Board 3.5.01 in particular has significantly increased its output in the latter part of the year as it now has a chairman.
The so-called "Comvik" approach to mixed inventions has been applied consistently, with Board 3.5.01 introducing the "notional business person" to help distinguish between technical features – which can contribute to inventive step – and non-technical features – which can't. Nevertheless, the presence of non-technical features in a claim remains a strong predictor of rejection.
This paper reviews notable decisions published in 2017 by the "electrical" Technical Boards of Appeal (Boards 3.5.01, 03, 04, 05, 06 and 07), which most often handle software related inventions, excluding Board 3.5.02 which mostly handles electrical components and hardware.
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