This example is adapted from T 696/06.
Step (i): Underlying the claimed method is the following business method:
A method for brokering offers and demands in the field of freight transportation, comprising:
Such a business method is per se non-technical and excluded under Art. 52(2)(c) and (3). Brokering offers and demands is a typical business activity. Using the geographical location of users is the kind of criterion which a transportation broker could specify as part of a business method based on non-technical, business considerations only. This business method does not serve any technical purpose in the context of the invention and thus does not contribute to its technical character.
Therefore, only the features related to the technical implementation of this business method can be identified as the features contributing to the technical character of the invention:
Step (ii): As a suitable starting point, document D1, which discloses a method of order management in which a server computer receives location information from GPS terminals, is selected as the closest prior art.
Step (iii): The difference between the subject-matter of claim 1 and D1 is thus the computer implementation of the steps of the business method defined above.
The technical effect of this difference is merely the automation of the business method underlying claim 1. The conclusion reached in step (i) holds, since the only distinguishing feature making a technical contribution is the technical implementation of this business method.
Step (iii)(c): The objective technical problem is formulated as how to adapt the method of D1 so as to implement the business method of brokering offers and demands according to the user’s current location. The person skilled in the art is considered to be a software project team and is given the knowledge of the business method in the form of a requirement specification.
Obviousness: Adapting the method of D1 to execute the business method steps is straightforward and requires routine programming only. Therefore, no inventive step is involved in the sense of Art. 52(1) and Art. 56.
Remarks: In this example, it was clear from the initial analysis at step (i) that underlying the claimed method was a method for brokering offers and demands, which as such is a business method. The features defining the business method were easily separable from the technical features of its computer implementation. Therefore, this example illustrates a line of argument in which it was possible in step (i) to determine all the features which contribute to the technical character of the invention and all those which do not. This line of argument pertains more to the field of computer-implemented business methods and might be less suitable in other fields.