Software patents in China

I’ve been told that the Chinese Patent Office has updated its Guidelines for Patent Examination, including some changes for inventions involving algorithm features and business rules.

As far as I understand these guidelines, subject-matter eligibility is tested in two steps:

  1. Does the claim include technical features?
  2. Does the claim recite technical means adopted to solve a technical problem?

Concerning inventive step, if the algorithmic features of the claim contribute to the technical solution, they have to be considered in the inventive step assessment.

To me, this sounds very similar to the German framework for assessing computer-implemented inventions. In Germany, we also have a two-step eligibility test (in contrast to the EPO’s more pragmatic “any hardware” approach), and inventive step can be based only on the technical part of the claim.

The amendments will enter into force on 1 Feb 2020.

Many thanks to Feynman Liang for making me aware of this update.

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#myweek 02/2020

I stumbled upon Thomas Tschersich’s #myweek videos on LinkedIn and liked the idea of sharing some interesting work insights on a regular basis. So here’s my first #myweek.

My first workweek in 2020 included:

  • Patent prosecution of telecommunications (5G), IoT and smart home appliance related inventions.
  • Sketching out my goals for 2020 (you did that too, didn’t you?)
  • Reviewing a draft of a patent application about a machine learning invention before first filing in the US, and improving it for the later regional phase at the EPO. Cudos to this farsighted client!

Motto for the coming week:

“Be more concerned with your current trajectory than your current results.”

James Clear

(that’s what the Atomic Habits audio book told me this morning on my run commute to the office)

How was your week?

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Patents for computer simulations?

In case you haven’t seen it already on the BARDEHLE PAGENBERG newsfeeds, my colleague Patrick Heckeler and I had a short conversation about the pending referral G1/19 and the underlying question whether computer simulations should be patentable at the EPO:

I’m very much looking forward to the Enlarged Board’s decision. In fact, this decision could affect entire industry branches, since all kinds of industries nowadays heavily rely on computer simulations.

If you want to know more, here is my firm’s amicus curiae letter. A listing of all amicus curiae letters can be found on the EPO website.

AI and the future of work

What will happen when (weak) AI has automated all routine work?

Option A: Being freed from the tedious and less sophisticated parts of work, we will happily take on the more challenging tasks, and will also find fulfillment in other things than paid work. Basically a liberation from the annoying part of labor à la Frithjof Bergmann and Frederic Laloux.

Option B: All that’s left for us to do are mentally very challenging tasks, problem cases, customer complaints, missed deadlines, liability cases. Burnout rates will skyrocket and we will wish back the old days where one could mentally recharge during the less complex tasks of one’s workday (more of a Gunter Dück‘ian dystopia).

What’s your forecast? And which human skills will be required to create a desirable future?

Photo by Andrew Leu on Unsplash

Patents for database technology

Yesterday was the first Tuesday in 2020 – time for a new entry in the European software patents knowledge base.

This decision is about database technology. Lately, I had several applications get rejected in first instance based on the argument that the invention involves only logical query optimization (=non-technical), which is by design encapsulated from the physical query execution plan (=technical).

This decision might come in handy. The Board decided that the cost-based optimization of a query in a relational database normally has technical character, as far as it uses a cost estimate for the computer resources (CPU, main memory, hard disk, …).

Unsure whether your software invention will be considered technical at the EPO? Check back regularly, because we publish a new case law summary every Tuesday in the European software patents knowledge base.

Photo by Jan Kolar on Unsplash

Make a damn schedule, and stick to it

Here’s a meaningful way to start your 2020*:

1. Pick some goals and write them down.
2. Check your calendar and block time every week to work on each goal.
3. Repeat every month.

(* This is not invented by me, but I got the idea from Michael Trautmann’s and Christoph Magnussen’s wonderful #OTWTNW podcast no. 181 with #WOL Working Out Loud mastermind John Stepper.)

Or just like Jordan Peterson said: Make a damn schedule, and stick to it.

Is your calendar aligned with your goals yet?

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Happy New Year 2020

2019 is over. Time for a little #yearinreview2019.

Here are 12 things I’ve learned in 2019 that I think are worth pursuing in 2020. Maybe I’ll share more if this is helpful:

  1. All progress comes from action.
  2. You are free to choose your state of mind.
  3. State what you want clearly, you’ll be surprised of the opportunities that will unfold.
  4. Establish a morning routine that focuses on production, not consumption.
  5. Aim for balance, avoid the extremes.
  6. Don’t do anything halfway.
  7. Stop doing the things you know aren’t good for you.
  8. Train your body, train your consciousness, train your ability to think.
  9. Be clear about your priorities, and re-evaluate them regularly.
  10. No one is in charge of your well-being, except you.
  11. Be more concerned with your character than your reputation.
  12. Allow yourself to be happy for no reason.

With these principles as guidelines, I’m really excited at what will manifest itself in 2020.

Which one is your favorite? And what are YOU aiming at in 2020?

Photo by John Baker on Unsplash

30 minutes about software patents in Europe

Here’s a video recording of a talk I gave in April 2019 in Saint Petersburg (Russia). The topic was “IT and software patents in Europe”:

Also check out the accompanying article in the EUROPEAN SOFTWARE PATENTS knowledge base.

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