G 0001/07 (Treatment by surgery/MEDI-PHYSICS) of 15.2.2010

European Case Law Identifier: ECLI:EP:BA:2010:G000107.20100215
Date of decision: 15 February 2010
Case number: G 0001/07
Referral: T 0992/03
Application number: 99918429.4
IPC class: G01R 33/28
Language of proceedings: EN
Distribution: A
Download and more information:
Decision text in EN (PDF, 194.720K)
Documentation of the appeal procedure can be found in the Register
Bibliographic information is available in: EN
Versions: OJ | Published
Title of application: MR methods for imaging pulmonary and cardiac vasculature and evaluating blood flow using dissolved polarized **(129)Xe
Applicant name: Medi-Physics, Inc.
Opponent name: -
Board: EBA
Headnote: The questions referred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal are answered as follows:
1. A claimed imaging method, in which, when carried out, maintaining the life and health of the subject is important and which comprises or encompasses an invasive step representing a substantial physical intervention on the body which requires professional medical expertise to be carried out and which entails a substantial health risk even when carried out with the required professional care and expertise, is excluded from patentability as a method for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery pursuant to Article 53(c) EPC.
2a. A claim which comprises a step encompassing an embodiment which is a "method for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery" within the meaning of Article 53(c) EPC cannot be left to encompass that embodiment.
2b. The exclusion from patentability under Article 53(c) EPC can be avoided by disclaiming the embodiment, it being understood that in order to be patentable the claim including the disclaimer must fulfil all the requirements of the EPC and, where applicable, the requirements for a disclaimer to be allowable as defined in decisions G 1/03 and G 2/03 of the Enlarged Board of Appeal.
2c. Whether or not the wording of the claim can be amended so as to omit the surgical step without offending against the EPC must be assessed on the basis of the overall circumstances of the individual case under consideration.
3. A claimed imaging method is not to be considered as being a "treatment of the human or animal body by surgery" within the meaning of Article 53(c) EPC merely because during a surgical intervention the data obtained by the use of the method immediately allow a surgeon to decide on the course of action to be taken during a surgical intervention.
Relevant legal provisions:
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969) Art 31
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969) Art 32
Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Art 27(3)(a)
European Union: Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 6 July 1998 on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions Art 006(2), Recital 35
Transitional Provisions: Decision AC of 28 June 2001 on the transitional provisions under Art 7of the Act revising the EPC Art 001
Act revising the Convention on the Grant of European Patents Art 003(1)
Act revising the Convention on the Grant of European Patents Art 007(1)
European Patent Convention Art 4(3)
European Patent Convention Art 53(c)
European Patent Convention Art 53(b)
European Patent Convention Art 56
European Patent Convention Art 83
European Patent Convention Art 84
European Patent Convention Art 123(2)
European Patent Convention Art 123(3)
European Patent Convention R 43
Patent Cooperation Treaty R 39(1)
Patent Cooperation Treaty R 67(1)
Swiss PatG Art 002(2)
German PatG § 5(2)
UK Patents Act 1977 Section 4(2)
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 52
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 53
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 54
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 55
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 56
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 57
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 52(2)
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 52(3)
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 52(4)
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 53(b)
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 84
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 112(1)
European Patent Convention 1973 Art 177(1)
Keywords: Applicable provisions - Art. 112(1) EPC 1973 - Art. 53(c) EPC"
Admissibility of the referral - yes
The Vienna Convention - principle of narrow interpretation of exclusions - no
One surgical step in a multi-step method - excluded from patentability - yes
Limited to surgery for a therapeutic purpose - no
Meaning of the wording of the exclusion - legal history - impact of jurisprudence and practice - ratio legis
Nature of interventions - involvement of a practitioner - no" "Medical skills and health risks - further criteria
Claim left to encompass a surgical step - no
Disclaimer under Article 53(c) EPC - yes - subject to remaining requirements of EPC
Omission - methods only concerning the internal operation of a device - yes - subject to remaining requirements of the EPC
Possible use of non-surgical method in a surgical method - irrelevant, if non-surgical method complete teaching in itself
Catchwords:

-

Cited decisions:
G 0005/83
G 0001/98
G 0001/03
G 0002/03
G 0001/04
G 0002/06
J 0010/07
T 0004/80
T 0144/83
T 0245/87
T 0182/90
T 0820/92
T 0082/93
T 0329/94
T 0789/96
T 1054/96
T 0035/99
T 1102/02
T 0383/03
T 1172/03
T 0005/04
T 0009/04
T 0924/05
T 0542/06
T 0810/06
T 1107/06
Citing decisions:
G 0002/08
G 0003/08
G 0001/09
G 0001/10
G 0002/10
G 0002/12
G 0002/13
G 0001/16
J 0007/11
T 0663/02
T 0992/03
T 1262/04
T 0826/06
T 1075/06
T 1242/06
T 0266/07
T 1068/07
T 1695/07
T 0818/08
T 0836/08
T 0923/08
T 1653/08
T 1680/08
T 1798/08
T 1487/09
T 1599/09
T 1635/09
T 2052/09
T 1016/10
T 1213/10
T 2187/10
T 2369/10
T 2426/10
T 1592/11
T 2438/11
T 0044/12
T 0429/12
T 0475/12
T 0699/12
T 2102/12
T 0651/13
T 1140/14
T 0598/15
T 1758/15

80 references found.

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EPC Articles

EPC Implementing Rules

EPO Guidelines - G Patentability

PCT Implementing Rules

Offical Journal of the EPO

Case Law Book: I Patentability

Case Law Book: II Conditions to be met by an Application

Case Law Book: III Amendments

Case Law of the Enlarged Board

General Case Law