Feeds

Sony's video metadata invention could be patentable in part

Restructure and reapply

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
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?
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.