5.4.2.3
Example 3 

This example is adapted from T 102/08.

This example illustrates the two-level technicality analysis set forth in section G‑VII, 5.4.

Claim 1: 
A system for the transmission of a broadcast media channel to a remote client over a data connection, said system including: 
(a)
means for storing an identifier of the remote client and an indication of an available data rate of the data connection to the remote client, said available data rate being lower than the maximum data rate for the data connection to the remote client;
(b)
means for determining a rate at which data is to be transmitted based on the indication of the available data rate of the data connection; and
(c)
means for transmitting data at the determined rate to said remote client.

Application of the steps of the problem-solution approach according to G‑VII, 5.4:

Step (i): All features, are prima facie identified as technical. At first glance, all features appear to contribute to the technical character of the invention.

Step (ii): Document D1, which discloses a system for broadcasting video over an xDSL connection to the set-top boxes of subscribers, is selected as the closest prior art. The system comprises a database storing identifiers of subscribers’ computers and, in association with them, an indication of the maximum data rate for the data connection to each subscriber’s computer. The system further comprises means for transmitting the video to a subscriber’s computer at the maximum data rate stored for said computer.

Step (iii): The differences between the subject-matter of claim 1 and D1 are:

(1) 
Storing an indication of an available data rate of the data connection to the remote client, said available data rate being lower than the maximum data rate for the data connection to the remote client.  
(2) 
Using said available data rate to determine the rate at which the data is transmitted to the remote client (instead of transmitting the data at the maximum data rate stored for said remote client as in D1). 

In order to determine if any technical effects arise from these differences, the following disclosure of the description is taken into account:

  "Under some pricing models, a customer may choose to pay a lower amount and receive a lower bit rate service when their line is capable of receiving a higher rate. Accordingly, the quality made available to the customer is preferably determined by the quality of service purchased and not necessarily the maximum quality available over the line."

The feature ofpurpose served by using an "available data rate" beingwhich is lower than a maximum data rate for the data connection to the remote client is not apparent from the claim. Therefore, the relevant disclosure in the description is taken into account. In the description, it is explained that a pricing model is provided which allows a customer to choose from several service levels, each service level corresponding to an available data-rate option having a different price. A user may select an available data rate lower than the maximum data rate possible with his connection in order to pay less. Hence, using an available data rate which is lower than the maximum data rate for the connection to the remote client addresses the aim of allowing a customer to choose a data-rate service level according to that pricing model. " is the result of a technical implementation of a pricing model which allows a customer to choose from several data rates, each rate being associated with a corresponding level of quality of service and being priced accordingly. This pricing model is itself non-technical through being This is not a technical aim, but an aim of a financial, administrative or commercial nature and thus falling falls under the exclusion of schemes, rules and methods for doing business in Art. 52(2)(c). Thus the only technical effect achieved is determining the transmission data rate in accordance with the pricing model. The pricing model itself represents an aim to be achieved in a non-technical field which may It may thus be included in the formulation of the objective technical problem as a constraint to be met.

The features of storing the available data rate and of using it to determine the rate at which the data is transmitted have the technical effect of implementing this non-technical aim.

Step (iii)(c): The objective technical problem is therefore formulated as how to implement in the system of D1 a pricing model which allows the customer to choose to pay a lower amount to receive broadcast media channels at a quality of service lower than the highest possible quality of service (i.e. at a data rate lower than the maximum possible data rate of the data connection). The pricing model is considered to be provided to the skilled person as part of the objective technical problem.a data-rate service level.
Obviousness: Given the task of implementing this choice of data-rate service level in accordance with the pricing model, it would be obvious to the skilled person that the maximum data rate purchased by a subscriber (i.e. the "available data rate" of claim 1), which can only be lower or equal to the maximum data rate of the data connection to the subscriber’s computer (i.e. the "remote client" of claim 1), would have to be stored for each subscriber and used by the system to determine the rate at which data is to be transmitted to a subscriber. Therefore, no inventive step is involved in the sense of Art. 52(1) and Art. 56.
Remarks: This example illustrates a claim which involves a complex mix of technical and non-technical features. On a prima faciefirst-glance basis in step (i), all features appeared to becontribute to the technical character of the invention. After comparison with D1, a detailed analysis of the technical character of the contribution made by the invention over D1 was possible at step (iii). This detailed analysis revealed that the purpose of transmitting data at a rate based on a pre-stored available data rate, lower than the maximum data rate for the data connection, was not technical but commercial. Since the contribution over D1 was the technical implementation ofdifferentiating features addressed a non-technical aim. This non-technical aim could thus be incorporated into the formulation of the objective technical problem (T 641/00).concept (pricing model), incorporating this non-technical concept in the formulation of the objective technical problem, as in T 641/00, was particularly appropriate.

Quick Navigation