Patent decision

BL number
Concerning rights in
Hearing Officer
Mr R C Kennell
Decision date
2 July 2008
Person(s) or Company(s) involved
AT&T Knowledge Ventures, L.P.
Provisions discussed
PA 1977 Section 1(2)
Excluded fields (refused)
Related Decisions


The invention provided, in a brokerage system which allowed a user to obtain digital content from third party providers via a networked system, a means to store information about the functionality and capability of one or more devices held by the user and supply the information to the provider so that the provider could supply content suitable for use on the device. Typically a “device profile table” identified at least the type of device and the type of media that the device could play. Applying the Aerotel test ([2006] EWHC Civ 1371, [2007] RPC 7), the hearing officer held that the invention was excluded as both a computer program and as a business scheme or method. In his view the contribution did not embody any process existing outside a computer or cause the computer to process the information in any new technical way, and there was no technical contribution beyond that to be expected from loading a program (analogy drawn with Gale [1991] RPC 305). Nor did the hearing officer accept that the contribution required the presence of data and could not therefore relate solely to a computer program; even if data was part of the contribution it did not stop the contribution from being excluded as a program up and running (see Macrossan appeal in Aerotel).

The hearing officer did not accept that the examiner should have been obliged to carry out a search to establish the actual contribution.

Full decision O/190/08 PDF document54Kb