Info Center

Computer- Implemented Inventions at the European Patent Office (Whitepaper)

VIII.  Direct link to physical reality

A direct link between the claimed subject-matter and (external) physical reality is not necessary in every case, as will be shown below. This chapter is based on the Enlarged Board of Appeal decision G1/19, points 87 to 88.

Direct link to physical reality

The decision T 0489/14 (Reasons, point 31), starting from G 3/08, discussed whether a claimed feature must cause a technical effect on a physical entity in the real world in order to contribute to the technical character of the claim. In G 3/08, this question was found to be inadmissible pursuant to Article 112(1)(b) EPC because it could not be established that two boards of appeal had given differing decisions on this issue. Quoting decisions beyond those considered in G 3/08, the board in T 0489/14 identified cases apparently requiring a technical effect directly linked to physical reality, but also others which suggested that a potential technical effect, i.e. an effect achieved only in combination with non-claimed features, was taken into account (Reasons, points 36 and 37).

Following existing case law and taking into account the relevant legal provisions, the Enlarged Board in G1/19 does not see a need to require a direct link with (external) physical reality in every case:

  • On the one hand, technical contributions may also be established by features within the computer system used.
  • On the other hand, there are many examples in which potential technical effects – which may be distinguished from direct technical effects on physical reality – have been considered in the course of the technicality / inventive step analysis.

A direct link with physical reality is usually sufficient regarding technicality

While a direct link with physical reality, based on features that per se are technical and/or non-technical, is in most cases sufficient to establish technicality, it cannot be a necessary condition, if only because the notion of technicality needs to remain open.

Background: “Direct link” means that features of the physical reality are claimed which cause the technical effect..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *