Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hu finds that storage is the key

Storage HallwayEx Parte Hu et al, No. 2010-000151 (BPAI Feb 8, 2012) involved a method and system for performing log-based recovery by allowing a plurality of worker processes to process in parallel a plurality of work items in a log. Each work item represented an ordered operation on a corresponding data object.

Oracle International Corp. brought US Patent Application 10/982,135 before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences as the examiner had rejected claims 26-45 as being directed to non-statutory subject matter.

Claim 26, as a representative claim, was directed to a computer-readable storage medium tied to the method of claim 1. Claim 26 read as follows:
26. A computer-readable storage medium storing one or more sequences of instructions which, when executed by one or more processors, causes the one or more processors to perform the method recited in Claim 1.
 Claim 1 in turn read as follows:
1. A method for processing sequences of work items from a log, wherein each work item in said log corresponds to a particular data object, the method comprising the computer-implemented steps of:

each of a plurality of Worker processes performing the steps of :

reading, from said log, a subset of the work items;

producing one or more sequentially ordered sets of work items;

wherein each of said one or more sequentially ordered sets corresponds to one or more data objects;

wherein each of said one or more sequentially ordered sets includes work items for the one or more data objects to which the sequentially ordered set corresponds; and

wherein, within each of said one or more sequentially ordered sets, work items are ordered in the same relative order as the work items were ordered in the log.
It's a storage medium

Oracle argued that the computer-readable storage medium recited in claims 26-45 is directed to a storage medium that can be read by a computer. Therefore, the claimed storage medium excludes intangible signals and transmission media that merely carry information as opposed to storing them.

No it isn't

The Examiner's view was that the specification failed to define a computer-readable storage medium to exclude carrier waves. Therefore the claims encompass transitory signals and are directed to non-statutory subject matter.

Yes it is

The Board disagreed with the examiner. They found that the computer-readable storage medium was directed to a tangible storage medium, which can be read by a computer.

A computer-readable medium is broad enough to cover intangible media. However, a computer readable storage medium is confined to tangible media for storing data.

Because the cited claims are limited to a tangible medium within one of the four statutory classes, they are directed to statutory subject matter.

Further steps

The Board reversed the Examiner's rejection and allowed all claims.

Photo courtesy of author RogueSun Media under Creative Commons licence.

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