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How can a patent be granted for

  1. Standard industry practice for the last 20 years - For example the Livechart format that uses the exact same method for both proprietary cell/chart/map data and expanded to include S57 encoded data.

  2. These methods are obvious to anyone knowledgeable in the art.

Another failing in the patent checking system for prior art or obvious work? Worse the applicant Chersoft must have known about prior art anyway!

Claim 1

  1. A method of communicating electronic map data to a remote vehicle, comprising a first data processing terminal interfaced with a vehicle-borne map data processing terminal over a network connection, the method performed at the first data processing terminal comprising the steps of;

    compiling map data as at least one cell comprising a plurality of vector data records and a plurality of feature data records;

    compressing the compiled cell data;

    encrypting and digitally

    signing the compressed cell data; and

    transmitting the encrypted and digitally signed cell data over the network;

    characterised in that the step of compiling comprises the further step of

    reducing the respective bit length of a plurality of vector data values.

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2 Answers 2

In looking at the history of this application in USPTO Public PAIR the applicant informed the patent office of two things that they thought were in the ball park.

enter image description here And the examininer's search turned up six more references of interest. What is somewhat out of the ordinary is that no rejection was issued along the way - it was allowed as filed. My experience is that this happens about 1 in 20 applications and it does make me wonder how hard the examiner was paying attention.

In a "reasons for allowably" section the examiner said:

Devries fails to teach a method of communicating electronic map data to a remote vehicle that comprises a first data processing terminal interfaced with a vehicle- borne map data processing terminal over a network connection, the is configured to compile map data as at least one cell comprising a plurality of vector data records and a plurality of feature data records, compress the compiled cell data, encrypts and digitally signs the compressed cell data, and transmits the encrypted and digitally signed cell data over the network; the step of compiling and another step of instructions recorded on a data carrying medium can also be configured to reduce the respective bit length of a plurality of vector data values.

enter image description here

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Patents are granted for innovative ideas and non-obvious enhancements.

It is often a subjective matter to determine if an enhancement is non-obvious -- taking two well known ideas and combining them does not necessarily make the new combination obvious in it self.

Hence patent examiners will in some cases allow a patent, as a grant is not the final decision anyway -- anybody who feel that they have prior art can always challenge a patent validity in the court, and if they are successful then the patent is invalidated.

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It is not the case that "anybody . . . can always challenge . . . . validity in court". A party only gets into court if the patent owner first accuses that party of infringement. A random person can ask the USPTO to start a reexamination or review proceeding on a patent. However, from the examiners' point of view, a decision to grant is a final decision. In Europe and other places they do have an opposition system that provides for the public to challenge a patent application that has been allowed by the examiner but not yet actually granted. –  George White Jul 8 at 17:34
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