In Ex Parte Castaneda et al, No. 2009-013594 (BPAI Jan 22, 2012) we saw another case of a claim chucked out because it included within its scope a data signal.
International Business Machines Corp. had filed US Patent Application 11/392,137 for an invention relating to date related event management and more particularly to recurring event management.
According to the specification, date management refers to the scheduling of events according to an occurrence date, time or both. Software products that include support for calendaring and scheduling include Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, and web-based products like Yahoo! Calendar.
An important feature of a date management system is the ability to schedule a recurring event without requiring the end user to individually set an event on each recurring date. For example, where a meeting is to occur every week on a particular time over the course of several months, the end user can schedule the event as recurring every week at the particular time for the course of the several months.
Claim 13 of the patent application, for example, read as follows:
13. A computer program product comprising a computer usable medium embodying computer usable program code for date driven date selective retrieval for recurrences in date driven data, the computer program product including:
computer usable program code for defining a date range;
computer usable program code for retrieving exactly three cached instances for each of the recurrences in the date driven data;
computer usable program code for selecting only those recurrences that fall within the date range according to the three cached instances for each of the recurrences; and
computer usable program code for adding the selected recurrences to a subset of the date driven values, and otherwise excluding remaining ones of the recurrences from the subset.It's physical
The appellant argued that their patent specification identified several examples of hardware stuff that would qualify as statutory subject matter. This included for example semiconductor or solid state memory, magnetic tape, a removable computer diskette, RAM, ROM, a rigid magnetic disk, and an optical disk.
The examiner had objected that the claim 13 encompassed non-statutory subject matter, such as propagation mediums. These include electronic, electromagnetic and infrared signals.
The Board agreed with the examiner. The appellant's specification stated that:
a computer-useable or computer readable medium can be any apparatus that can contain, store, communicat[e], propagate, or transport the program for use by or in connection with the instruction execution system, apparatus, or device. The medium can be an electronic, magnetic, optical, electromagnetic, infrared, or semiconductor system (or apparatus or device) or a propagation medium.According to the appellant's specification, a computer-useable medium may include propagation mediums such as electronic, magnetic, optical, electromagnetic or infrared signals.
Therefore claim 13 can be broadly but reasonably construed to encompass a transitory, propagating signal, which is non-statutory subject matter.
Furthermore, the claim was not limited to a non-transitory, tangible medium within one of the four statutory classes. The claim was found to be directed to non-statutory subject matter.
The Board affirmed the Examiner's decision to reject claim 13 and dependent claims as non-statutory subject matter.
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