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EP1437835 Method for economising the storage location for a sequence of numerical values
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 ideas: Economising storage location through the usage of adequate standardisation (units)

The patent was filed initially in these general terms It was granted with the qualification of applying it to apparatus for the registration of consumption

Main claim: A pool of figures – i.e. rates of consumption – is divided by a qualified factor of standardisation and is rounded.

Other claims:

  • Following the standardisation: usage of all digits
  • Specifying the factor of standardisation from the maximum of figures
  • Applying a power of the number system's basis as a factor of standardisation
  • Various methods of dealing with mistakes of rounding
  • Dynamic adjustments to variable numerical values
  • Allowing to be at least one numerical value to be uncompressed
  • Prior confirmation of differences
  • Dependency of the stored number of digits from the desired accuracy
  • Apparatus for the registration of consumption applying these ideas

Description: The description first of all points out that the described method (main claim) has yet been patented in the USA and is consequently state of the art. There follows a consideration of the topic "Dealing with rounding mistakes" as well as an exemplary calculation of the compression method. To this part of the description are added simple mathematical formulas which – as simple as they are – make an impression on mathematical laymen.

Daily parallel: Distances between cities are usually quoted in kilometers, the length of screws in millimeters. Those who do this vice versa have more work to do.

The person who takes this into account noting his daily water consumption in litre but his monthly water consumption in hectolitre, infringes the patent.

Examples for patent infringements: Yet the usage of an adequate unit is a type of data compression in terms of the main claim. As a matter of principle one could also measure the water consumption in households on the basis of water molecules. This is not practiced because the occurring numbers would rise too much and not be manageable. Instead there are used units (litre, hectolitre) which are adjusted as well as possible to the volumes occurring.

In this strict sense every existing apparatus for the registration of consumption infringes this patent.

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