Feeds

Sony's video metadata invention could be patentable in part

Restructure and reapply

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The Patent Office has rejected Sony's appeal to patent a video recording system because it was computer software, but has said that a claim structured differently could qualify for patenting.

The Patent Office originally refusal to grant a patent for technology it deemed was software. UK patent law says that a computer program cannot be patented. Sony appealed, and the Office's Deputy Director R C Kennell has just ruled on that appeal.

He said much of the original application was indeed a software program and could not be patented. He picked out some elements of the patent application, though, and said they were not simply a computer program and might be eligible for a patent.

Sony had applied for a patent for a data structure which dealt with metadata attached to video files. Metadata, which attaches to digital artefacts such as a song or picture and describes them, would contain information about each video shot and could be useful in editing, archiving and searching through video material.

The application was for a data structure, but the company was told that a data structure was basically a computer program. Since that ruling the approach to interpreting the law has changed in the light of the Aerotel and Macrossan Patent Office rulings.

Sony appealed, and the Patent Office has said that the application fails under both the old and the new approach. The office did say, though, that there were elements of the application that could be eligible for a patent.

Something can be patented if it has a "technical effect". Though the data structure itself was ruled out, Kennell said if it were incorporated into a network the new network might be patentable.

"It seems to me that claims according to either of the auxiliary requests, which require the incorporation of the data structure into a data communications network, would satisfy all the Aerotel/Macrossan steps," he said.

"The incorporation of a hierarchical database structure into a communications network of data processing devices so that metadata can be communicated between them provides in my view a contribution which is not disclosed or foreshadowed by the prior art cited on this application, which is not solely a computer program, and which is technical in nature."

Sony said the system would be particularly useful for the capture and editing of high definition images. The images themselves are large and can be hard to manage, so metadata could become a proxy for a shot, meaning that only the shots that were needed would have to be actually processed.

"This decision reaffirms the law that software cannot be patented, that a data structure is essentially software, but just because an invention contains data structures does not mean it cannot be patented," said John MacKenzie, an intellectual property partner at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW. "The "invention" needs to be considered, but a patent will not be granted for the data structure 'as such'."

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.