The invention relates to monitoring media and determining media impressions using distributed demographic information.
The Examining Division refused the application, alleging that accessing cookies from different domains was considered administrative in nature and the problem was circumvented by means of administrative steps.
However, the Board noted that accessing cookies from different domains is a technical issue, and the technical solution is circumventing a browser restriction, which is itself a technical feature. Since no documents were cited, the Board remitted the examination back to the Division for further examination.
Here are the practical takeaways from the decision T 0072/20 (Accessing cookies from different Internet domains/NIELSEN) from November 30, 2023, of the Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.01.
The invention addresses monitoring users’ access to online media content and linking this information with demographics in proprietary databases like Facebook.
The main challenge is the “same origin” policy in web browsers, which restricts access to cookies set by different Internet domains. This policy hinders the ability of an impression monitor system (IMS) and a database proprietor to access each other’s cookies for linking monitoring information with demographic data.
The invention solves this problem by using a “cookie reporter” on the client device. This reporter, provided by an audience measurement entity associated with the IMS, detects a login event to the database provider’s service and sends a dummy request to the IMS. This request prompts the IMS to set a cookie on the client device, which, along with the database proprietor’s cookie, is sent back to the proprietor for linking.
Claim 1 (sole request)
Is it patentable?
In the decision under appeal, the Examining Division refused the application as it was considered obvious over a general-purpose computer, for the following reasons:
4.1 The examining division considered that the features relating to accessing cookies from different domains were administrative in nature.
The problem of “how to combine information extracted from cookies respectively associated to different domains, when one of the domains is not accessible to the entity setting a cookie in a different domain due to existing protocols” was said to be circumvented by means of administrative steps as in T 258/03 – Auction method/HITACHI and T 931/95 – Controlling pension benefits system/PBS PARTNERSHIP.
The Board disagreed with this assessment and noted as follows:
4.2 The Board, however, takes the view that accessing cookies from different domains is a technical issue and that the invention in claims 1 and 10 provides a technical solution to this issue. This technical solution is circumventing a browser restriction, which is itself a technical feature albeit possibly implementing a non-technical policy. This is not the same as circumventing a technical problem by modifying a non-technical scheme as in T 258/03.
However, the Board noted that the Examining Division did not cite any document, as the features were considered non-technical and only searched within the classification of business methods.
The Board considered the feature was technical and also covered computer security and web systems. Thus, remitted it to the Examining Division for further search.
You can read the full decision here: T 0072/20 (Accessing cookies from different Internet domains/NIELSEN) from November 30, 2023, of the Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.01.