AI case law catch-up: (T0872/19)

AI case law catch-up: (T0872/19)

This case (T0872/19) seems to have slipped the net of my case law feed until last week although the decision came down in October. I am reporting it here for AI case law aficionados, as there was little in the way of new points to be gleaned. The main points of note are: 

  • Increasing the relevance to a web page (resource) of advertisements to place on the web page is not considered technical as it appears to be linked to the semantic content or visual attractiveness of the advertisements.  

  • Providing a more accurate representation of web page (resource) features to give refined relevance scores is not a technical effect since the relevance scores are not technical features. 

  • For this it does not matter whether the resources are text, web pages, images or multimedia content (the board referred here to point 126 of the reasons of G1/19: a “technical considerations” must be related to the implementation of the data processing in question and not the nature of the data processed).  

  • Therefore, whether a web-page is considered an image or not or whether the resources are images or not did not change the outcome because there is no technical effect in improving the relevance score.  

Beyond these specifics, the board makes a number of more general observations: 

  • Not all image classification is technical. 

  • If there is no technical effect in what the invention seeks to achieve, merely processing images does not change that, 

  • and, although not determining of the decision, the Board mentioned it thought that web pages are data, not images 

What does one make of this decision? It seems not to change the current position on how patentability in this space is assessed but is unfortunate in reinforcing the view that making an improvement in engineering technology in AI is not considered capable of providing an inventive step by itself, for example if employed to achieve something in a purely commercial context, here ad auctions. Hopefully this will change so as not to exclude from the patent system an increasingly important part of computer engineering (witness the changing approach to database technology – see the first story of this month). 


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