Patent decision

BL number
Concerning rights in
GB2383152 A
Hearing Officer
Mr S Probert
Decision date
14 September 2005
Person(s) or Company(s) involved
Oracle Corporation
Provisions discussed
PA 1977 Section 1(2)(c
Excluded fields (refused)
Related Decisions


The invention concerned a new data structure for storing different versions of data objects, for example, computer program files or modular elements of computer programs. The data structure uses an "object branches table" and an “object versions table” to correlate objects stored within the structure. Previous versions of objects are stored in compressed delta format.

The Hearing Officer did not accept that the "little man" test from the CFPH judgment was appropriate in this case, and he applied the two-stage test from CFPH instead. The Hearing Officer also considered the policy reasons behind the computer program exclusion, as stated in CFPH. He concluded that since the claims (if granted) would foreclose computer programs to the public, then the application could not be granted.

Although the data structure was acknowledged to be new and inventive, the Hearing Officer considered that a data structure is essentially a computer programming technique. He concluded that the invention was an advance in the field of computer programming that nobody outside the field of computer programming would understand or appreciate. The application was refused because such things are not inventions for the purposes of patent law.

Full decision O/255/05 PDF document149Kb