The European Patent Office considered the generation of database queries from database independent selection conditions technical. Here are the practical takeaways from the decision T 1500/08 (Generation of database queries/UBS) of November 4, 2011 of Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.01:

Key takeaways

Reusing a previous search by a database server may be a technical aspect.

The invention

The application underlying the present decision relates to the automatic generation of search queries (cf. EP 1 566 745 A1, para. [0001]). Oftentimes, search requests including selection conditions have a database independent format and must therefore be translated into a database specific query language that can be understood by the used database server (cf. EP 1 566 745 A1, para. [0006]). Hence, there is a need for a mechanism for efficiently and flexibly transforming a database independent search request into a database specific query (cf. EP 1 566 745 A1, para. [0007]). This could be achieved by means of placeholders that could be replaced by specific operators included in the query strings (cf. EP 1 566 745 A1, paras. [0012] and [0023]).

Fig. 1 of EP 1 566 745 A1.

  • Claim 1 (auxiliary request 2)

Is it patentable?

The first instance examining division rejected the present application due to lack of inventive step. During the the appeal proceedings, the applicant filed a main request as well as two auxiliary requests. The main request as well as auxiliary request 1 were rejected by the Board of appeal due to lack of novelty (main request) and lack of inventive step (auxiliary request 2).

However,  concerning claim 1 of auxiliary request 2, the Board in charge outlined:

5.7 According to D2, all substitutions are made before the query is sent to the database server.

5.8 The question of inventive step, therefore, comes down to this: would it have been obvious to the skilled person to modify the teaching of D2 so that only the operators were substituted before transmission to the database server?

Hence, as a next step, the Board in charge derived the technical effect as follows from the above-given distinguishing feature:

5.9 The technical effect is that, sometimes, a previous search can be reused by the database server (application as published, paragraph 0023). The appellant explained, during oral proceedings, that the database server, when processing searches in which only selection values (but not fields or operators) change, can re-use some of the previous results.

While the Board in charge considered the claimed subject-matter technical, it further argued that it would be rendered-obvious by the cited prior art and thus dismissed the appeal.

More information

You can read the whole decision here: T 1500/08 (Generation of database queries/UBS) of November 4, 2011.

Never miss a beat by subscribing to the email newsletter. We will send you a monthly digest of new knowledge base entries, as well as occasional interesting information about European software patents. Please see our Privacy Policy for details.
* = Required field

Please share this article if you enjoyed it!