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September – Patent 4

EP1044400 Internet-based service for updating a programmable control device
Advice on the reading of patent specifications:
  • The decisive element are the claims, as they specify which actions are forbidden within the framework of the patent.
  • Violating one single claim is sufficient to be considered a patent violation. Generally, claim number 1 is the decisive main claim which covers all other claims relating to special cases.
  • The description is intended to help the reader interpret the claim. At the same time, it is supposed to document and disclose the details of the invention. This disclosure is the original purpose of the entire patent system.
  • In practice, a patent specification contains no detailed information on how the patented procedure could be implemented (even if the patent owner allowed the implementation). In particular, a software patent contains no program code (reference implementation), but merely describes the idea of a software.

Patented idea: Download of a device driver from the Internet which is proper for the utilisation situation.

Main claim: A control device (for ex. a PC) with a graphic user interface downloads a device driver from the Internet which corresponds to a parameter (geographical position, time of day, time of year, user profile, device inventory).

Further claims:

  • Transmission of simultaneous controls to the device.
  • Driver as editable code.
  • Interactive selection of device.
  • Computer program which implements the patented method.
  • Control device (for ex. PC with software) which implements the patented method.

Description: The patent specifications document

  • the fact that in the field of consumer electronics there are used evermore complex devices which require evermore sophisticated remote controls,
  • the fact that the programmable remote controls with graphic user interface (= standard PC in the case of a remote control) are already available on the market and
  • the fact that the reloading of different device drivers improves the universal field of application of the remote control.

In spite of the fact that the description is mostly about a remote control, the patent claims refer in general to a "control device" – thus especially to a standard PC which controls its peripheral devices by means of drivers.

Everyday life paralel: A new machine was delivered to a factory. The specialist ("control device") responsible for the machine asks the producer of the machine detailed questions on the phone. He describes the modality ("user profile") in which the new machine has to be used and receives ("download from the internet") an utilisation instruction ("driver") which corresponds to the relevant situation.

Examples for patent infringements: Many devices which are controlled by a PC (for ex. printer) are delivered with a driver with graphic user interface which one can also download in the proper form (for ex. in different languages) from the internet.

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