This decision concerns an European patent application relating to a method for mapping local activation times from a plurality of electrophysiology data pointsHere are the practical takeaways from the decision T 0855/22 (Mapping sub-conventions/ST. JUDE MEDICAL) of Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.05.

Key takeaways

An “increased graphical granularity” does not relate to a technical effect but to a non-technical cognitive effect.

It is not enough merely to assert that the “presentation of information” assists the user in doing something.

 

The invention

The invention relates generally to cardiac therapeutic procedures, such as cardiac ablation. In particular, the invention relates to a method for generating maps of local activation times. According to the application, electrocardiographic mapping is a part of numerous cardiac and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. As the complexity of such procedures increases, however, the electrophysiology maps utilized must increase in quality, in density, and in the rapidity and ease with which they can be generated.

Figure 1 of EP3580763

Here is how the invention was defined in claim 1:

  • Claim 1 (main request)

Is it patentable?

The examining division found that claim 1 lacked an inventive step over D1 (US 2015/228254 A1).

The Board confirmed the finding by the examining division:

1.2 Claim 1 of the main request differs from D1 essentially in that different mapping sub-conventions are used for different sub-maps of an LAT map corresponding to sub-ranges of LAT data. The appellant argued that this allowed an “improved visualization of arrythmias by increasing granularity when graphically representing the LAT sub-maps”.

1.3 However, contrary to Reasons 11.3 of the contested decision, the board is not convinced that the distinguishing features of claim 1 of the main request solve any objective technical problem. Instead, they merely involve “presentation of information” as such. An “increased graphical granularity” does not relate to a technical effect but to a non-technical cognitive effect.

1.4 The appellant argued that there was a technical effect in the case at hand since it assisted a physician to treat arrythmia but did not explain this any further. However, “presentation of information” can rarely contribute to the technical character of the invention if [unless] it credibly assists the user in performing a technical task by means of a continued and guided human-machine interaction process. For this purpose, it is not enough – as in the present case – merely to assert that the “presentation of information” assists the user in doing something. The board can only speculate as to whether the appellant meant that the presentation of information in the case at hand might be useful for a physician to distinguish different patterns of arrythmia. However, this is not a technical task but an intellectual task eventually performed by the physician. The board does not regard such kind of an assistance as a technical effect. Thus, the above distinguishing features cannot support the presence of inventive step.

1.5 Therefore, in accordance with the conclusions of the contested decision, claim 1 of the main request does not involve an inventive step (Article 56 EPC).

None of the auxiliary requests was found to overcome the above objection. Finally, the Board dismissed the appeal and the European patent application was refused.

More information

You can read the whole decision here: decision T 0855/22 (Mapping sub-conventions/ST. JUDE MEDICAL) of Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.05.

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