The application underlying the present decision relates to a method of creating a generic wireless communication platform for user applications in an area of wireless communications. However, the European Patent Office refused to grant a patent since the relevant features of claim 1 would either be rendered obvious by the cited prior art or would only refer to non-technical aspects. Here are the practical takeaways of the decision T 0999/16 (Wireless communication platform/IQRF) of February 4, 2022 of Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.03:

Key takeaways

Activities depending on administrative considerations are non-technical and thus cannot contribute to inventive step.

The invention

According to EP 1 768 268 A2, the invention underlying the present decision relates to an arrangement of a module for wireless communication between electric or electronic equipment or systems, in high frequency bands at least in the range of 300 MHz to 2.60 GHz, particularly for home and office automation systems. Said electric or electronic equipment includes controls for electronics, and can be controlled or can provide data, for example a cordless thermometer. The invention also involves the method of controlling it and a method of creating generic platforms for user applications in the area of wireless communications with those modules (cf. EP 1 768 268 A2, para. [0001]).

Fig. 1 of EP 1 768 268 A2

Here is how the invention is defined by the limiting features of claim 1 of the main request:

  • Claim 1 (feature labeling introduced by the Board)

Is it technical?

First of all, the Board in charge determined the distinguishing features of the closest prior art document D1 as follows:

3.2.4 The subject-matter of claim 1 therefore differs from the disclosure of D1 in features D1, I, J, J1 and J2.

Then, the Board outlined that features D1, J, J1 and J2 are rendered-obvious by D1. Specifically with respect to feature I, which reads “the addresses and the method of selecting the individual services of the operating system are published”, the Board explained that it would refer to a non-technical activity and thus could not contribute to inventive step:

3.2.6 Re feature I: the “publishing” of addresses and programs is a non-technical activity, depending on administrative considerations, which therefore does not contribute to inventive step (cf. T 641/00, headnote I). In any event, the publication of a list of “memory addresses” of operating-system routines stored in a non-volatile memory, e.g. a ROM, to be called from user programs was a technique notoriously known already in the 1980s (e.g. “KERNAL” calls in the 8-bit computer Commodore C64). Hence, the skilled person would have readily considered this technique when implementing the “operating functions of the Real-time Operation System 210” (see D1, paragraph [0035]).

Notably, the Appellant did not contest this assessment and just presented generic arguments why the subject-matter of claim 1 would comprise an inventive step. However, the Board did not follow these arguments.

Against this background, at the end of the hearing, the appeal was dismissed due to lack of inventive step.

More information

You can read the whole decision here: T 0999/16 (Wireless communication platform/IQRF) of February 4, 2022

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