This decision concerns the way how applications can be installed on a mobile phone’s SIM. One might not expect big surprises concerning the technical character in this field, but the board took a stricter view in this case. Here are the practical takeaways from the decision T 1310/17 (Anwendungen auf SIM-Karten/TELEKOM) of 11.11.2020 of Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.03:

Key takeaways

Providing the SIM OTA Enabler as a server system in the network provider’s network relates to administrative processes or administrative considerations rather than technical considerations.

The invention

This is an opposition appeal. The European patent concerns the way how applications are loaded onto the SIM card in a mobile phone (so-called “provisioning”). In the prior art, the provisioning is done either locally via the SIM card’s contacts and a card reader, or remotely via GSM/UMTS or a similar wireless interface (so-called “over the air” or “OTA” provisioning).

According to the patent, a drawback of the prior art is that the (OTA) provisioning is controlled by the network operator, so that third parties have only limited capabilities of equipping a SIM card with application software. It is therefore the problem addressed by the patent to open up the internal process of the network provider such that third parties can install their apps on the SIM cards of the network provider’s customers.

Fig. 1 of EP 2 451 135
Fig. 1 of EP 2 451 135

Here is how the invention was defined in claim 1:

  • Claim 1 in amended form (English translation by the author of this article)