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Guidelines for Examination


2.2 Computer‑implemented inventions and business methods

For claims directed to computer-implemented inventions and business methods, where the aspects lending technical character to that subject-matter are so well known that nobody could reasonably dispute their existence at the relevant date ("notorious knowledge" as defined in T 1411/08, reasons 4.1 and T 690/06, reasons 13), no documentary evidence as to the relevant state of the art is required in the search report. Such cases, however, are exceptional.

Such "notorious knowledge" is not to be confused with the skilled person's common general knowledge, which is something that generally can be reasonably questioned (T 1411/08, reasons 4.1; G‑VII, 2 and 3.1).

For computer-implemented inventions and business methods, where all the aspects lending technical character to the subject-matter are notorious, a search report under Rule 61 may be issued which comprises either:

a document linking information technology (IT) to non-technical processes 

In cases where there is no other potential technical contribution beyond the idea of using IT to carry out and/or automate non-technical tasks (for example, to achieve better business results), the search will be complete when evidence is cited that the underlying idea of making use of generally known IT means for carrying out a non-technical activity was known at the filing or priority date. This document should be labelled "L" and a comment should be added in the search report.

no document 

Given that non-technical subject-matter is not searched and that the provision of a specific prior art document as evidence may be considered unnecessary for notorious knowledge, the search report need not cite a document to provide documentary proof that such notorious technical aspects of claimed subject-matter were comprised in the state of the art at the relevant date. The search report contains a statement to that effect associated with the Notice from the European Patent Office dated 1 October 2007 concerning business methods (OJ EPO 2007, 592), cited as an "L" document (see B‑X, 9.2.8(d)).