Good news for software patents in Germany?

Regular readers of this blog will know that the German courts tend to follow a comparatively strict approach when it comes to software patents. Following the landmark decision “webpage display” a number of software-related claims have been rejected for either non-statutory subject-matter (since computer programs as such are not patent-eligible) or lack of inventive step (since purely non-technical features are disregarded).

Two new decisions of the German Federal Court of Justice, however, might have the potential of giving software patent applicants more room to argue patent-eligibility in Germany.

Being in the process of updating the Germany chapter of Software Patents Worldwide, I will provide more elaborate findings on these two decisions soon. For the time being, here are the headnotes of both decisions (my inofficial translation):

Decision X ZR 37/13 — Bildstrom (“image stream”) of 26 February 2015 (the IPKat has already provided a great summary of this decision):

Instructions relating to the (visual) presentation of information which do not primarily focus on the conveyance of particular content or its conveyance in a particular layout but on the presentation of image content in a manner that takes into account the physical characteristics of human perception and reception of information and are directed towards making possible, improving or making practical the human perception of the displayed information serve the solution of a technical problem with technical means.

EDIT: Some more insights on this decision can be found here.

Decision X ZB 1/15 — Flugzeugzustand (“airplane status”) of 30 Juni 2015:

a) Mathematical methods are with regard to § 1 (3) No. 1 Patent Act only patentable if they serve to solve a specific technical problem with technical means.

b) A mathematical method can be considered non-technical only if it has no relation to the targeted application of natural forces in connection with the claimed teaching.

c) A sufficient relation to the targeted application of natural forces is present if a mathematical method is used to obtain more reliable insights about the status of an airplane based on available measurement values and thereby influencing the functioning of the system serving the determination of this status.

d) Subject-matter which is novel and involves an inventive step cannot be considered non-patentable only for the reason that it does not provide a noticeable advantage in comparison to the prior art.

EDIT: Look here for a more detailed discussio of this decision.

Originally published at on August 7, 2015.

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