8.1.4 Identification of the skilled person in the case of computer-implemented inventions

In T 641/00 (OJ 2003, 352) the board stated that the identification of the skilled person needs careful consideration. He will be an expert in a technical field. If the technical problem concerns a computer implementation of a business, actuarial or accountancy system, he will be someone skilled in data processing, and not merely a businessman, actuary or accountant (T 172/03).

In T 531/03 the board stated that, in the assessment of inventive step, features relating to a non-invention within the meaning of Art. 52(2) EPC 1973 ("non-technical features") could not support the presence of inventive step. The patentee submitted that the invention at issue required a combination of a technical and a non-technical inventive step, and that the skilled persons would therefore consist of a team of a "non-technical person" plus a technical person. The board rejected this approach and stated that an attempt to take into account the contribution of non-technical and technical aspects on an equal footing in the assessment of inventive step would be inconsistent with the EPC, since the presence of inventive step would, in such an approach, be attributed to features which were defined in the EPC as not being an invention.

The board in T 407/11 held that the relevant skilled person in the context of providing computer-system users with operating assistance via a user interface (e.g. error messages or warnings) was an expert in software ergonomics concerned with the user-friendliness of human-machine interfaces rather than an expert in software programming or in computer technology in the strict sense.

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