Another common type of CII is realised in a distributed computing environment. Examples are a networked client (e.g. a smartphone) and server system, accessing storage or processing resources of a computer cloud, devices in a peer-to-peer network performing file sharing, an augmented reality environment with head mounted displays, autonomous vehicles interacting over an ad hoc network or maintaining a distributed ledger using a blockchain.
For such distributed CIIs, the claim set may comprise claims directed to each entity of the distributed system and/or to the overall system and the corresponding methods. Such a claim set may be allowable under Rule 43(2)(a) (F‑IV, 3.2). Each independent claim must nevertheless fulfil the requirements for patentability, in particular the requirements of Art. 54, Art. 56 and Art. 84. For example, if the invention lies in the implementation of a computer cloud using virtual machines enabling adaptation to workload changes by allocating resources in an automatic manner, a client device accessing the resources of the cloud may already be known in the art. The claim set must also fulfil the requirements of unity.
It may be necessary to refer to the specific features of the different entities and to define how they interact to ensure the presence of all essential features. When referring to the interaction between the different entities, particular care must be taken that the claim is clear. In some situations, it may be necessary to limit the claim to the combination of the entities (see F‑IV, 4.14). If the distribution of the steps of a method across the involved entities is essential to the invention, it will be necessary to define which method step is carried out by which entity in order to fulfil the requirements of Art. 84. Otherwise, this may be left undefined in generic CII claims (see F‑IV, 3.9.1).
Some considerations relating to these requirements are illustrated with the help of the following examples. Other formulations (F‑IV, 3.9.1) than the ones given in the examples can also be part of the claim set but have been omitted for reasons of brevity.
1. A transmitter device comprising means for encoding data by performing steps A and B and means to transmit the encoded data to a receiver device.
2. A receiver device comprising means for receiving encoded data from a transmitter device and means for decoding the data by performing steps C and D.
3. A system comprising a transmitter device according to claim 1 and a receiver device according to claim 2.
4. A computer program [product] comprising instructions which, when the program is executed by a first computer, cause the first computer to encode data by performing steps A and B and to transmit the encoded data to a second computer.
5. A computer program [product] comprising instructions which, when the program is executed by a second computer, cause the second computer to receive encoded data from a first computer and decode the received data by performing steps C and D.
Remarks: The problem addressed by the invention is the transmission of data over a network. The transmitter device encodes the data using an algorithm comprising steps A and B and the receiver device performs the complementary function of decoding the data using an algorithm comprising steps C and D. The requirements of Rule 43(2) are fulfilled since the devices of claims 1 and 2 are interrelated in that they interact to perform the invention and solve the stated problem. Novelty and inventive step have to be assessed for each independent claim individually. For example, if encoding according to steps A and B enables encoding to a known coding format in a more efficient way, and decoding according to steps C and D is conventional, it may be that only claims 1 and 3 are new and inventive.