How can a corona affect communication lines

T 0863/02 () of 23.3.2004

European Case Law Identifier:ECLI: EP: BA: 2004: T086302.20040323
Date of the decision:23 March 2004
File number:T 0863/02
Application number:97917229.3
IPC class:B60R 25/04
Procedural language:DE
Distribution:C.
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Name of the registration:Anti-theft device for motor vehicles and anti-theft method
Name of applicant:ADAM OPEL AG
Name of opponent:Robert Bosch GmbH Dept. ZGE3 Lachenmeir
Chamber:3.2.01
Guiding principle: -
Relevant legal norms:
Tags:Novelty (affirmed)
Inventive step (yes)
Orientation phrase:

-

Listed decisions:
Quotations in other decisions:

Facts and applications

I. The opposition filed by the opponent against European Patent No. 0 879 160 relating to the grounds for opposition under Article 100 (a) EPC with regard to the documents

D8: DE-A-43 20 776

D10: DE-C-43 31 664

D11: DE-A-43 33 474

D12: EP-A-0 683 293

was supported, led to the revocation of the patent for lack of inventive step in the subject matter of claim 1 by the decision of the opposition division posted on June 11, 2002.

II. The appellant (patent proprietor) appealed against this decision on August 9, 2002. At the same time, the statement of grounds was submitted and the appeal fee was paid.

III. Oral hearings were held before the Board of Appeal on 23 March 2004.

The appellant requested that the decision under appeal be set aside and that the patent be maintained on the basis of claim 1 filed on December 12, 2001 and claims 2 to 11 as granted.

The respondent (opponent) requested that the appeal be dismissed.

IV. The independent claims 1 and 6 read as follows:

"1. Anti-theft device for a motor vehicle, containing:

- a transponder (2) combined with an ignition key (1) with transmitting and receiving antenna (7) as well as with computing unit (10) and memory unit (9),

- An immobilizer (3) with a transmitting and receiving antenna (8), which is arranged in the area of ​​an ignition lock (4), and

- An engine control unit (5) electrically connected to the immobilizer (3) for influencing the function of an internal combustion engine of the motor vehicle depending on the proof of access authorization of the transponder holder,

characterized in that the engine control unit (5) itself is designed to check the access authorization of the transponder holder and the immobilizer (3) is used for the relevant data exchange between the transponder (2) and engine control unit (5), but neither generates nor generates engine release or blocking information transmits to the engine control unit. "

"6. A method for theft protection of a motor vehicle, in which the operation of an internal combustion engine of the motor vehicle is influenced as a function of evidence of access authorization, the access authorization through the exchange of information between a personal transponder (2) and an engine control unit (5) with the interposition of a motor vehicle-side immobilizer ( 3) is established, characterized in that

- information is transmitted from the engine control unit (5) to the transponder (2),

- A code is calculated in the transponder (2) from stored information and the information from the engine control unit (5),

- the calculated code is transmitted to the engine control unit (5),

- A reference code is calculated in the engine control unit (5) from stored information and information from the transponder (2),

- the code is compared with the reference code in the engine control unit (5) and

- Motor operation is enabled if the code and reference code match and blocked if they do not match. "

V. The complainant's submissions can be summarized as follows:

The opposition division assessed the D12 in a completely different way when compared with claim 1 than when compared with claim 6. The D12 provides that the access authorization of a transponder holder is checked after a data exchange between an immobilizer designated there as reader 2 and the transponder. The engine control unit is not involved in checking the access authorization. The text passage in column 3, lines 49 to 52 of the D12 could not mean that the reader was completely omitted and that its function as a whole would be taken over by the engine control unit. According to the teaching of the D12, the reader must generate an enabling output signal AS for the connected control devices (column 5, lines 40 to 47). This release information AS can be intercepted and manipulated.

The other prior art cited by the respondent did not suggest that this disadvantage could be circumvented in accordance with the patent.

VI. The Respondent argued essentially as follows:

Neither the subject matter of claim 1 nor the method according to claim 6 were based on an inventive step.

It is already known from the D10 to design the engine control unit itself to check the access authorization of a transponder holder (column 2, lines 27 to 35; column 4, lines 37 to 48). The only difference between the subject matter of claim 1 and that of the D10 remains the feature that the code transmitter 7 mentioned in column 2, line 18 of D10 is a transponder with a transmitting and receiving antenna that is combined with an ignition key , whereby the receiving device 3 to be considered as an immobilizer in the sense of the claim must also have a transmitting and receiving antenna. The D10, however, indicates the possibility of a bidirectional implementation of the code generator (column 2, line 21). A code transmission by means of a transmitting and receiving antenna in a transponder connected to an ignition key is already known from the anti-theft device according to the D11 (column 2, lines 18 to 25). Due to the obvious combination of the D10 with the D11, the person skilled in the art would come to the subject matter of claim 1 in an obvious manner.

The D11 also suggest the subject matter of claim 1 on its own. This document describes an anti-theft device with a test unit P with a transmitting and receiving antenna E, which is arranged in the area of ​​an ignition lock (column 2, lines 18 to 28 and FIG. 1). This communicates with a transponder connected to the ignition key, which can also be equipped with a transmitting and receiving antenna as well as a computing unit and memory unit (column 5, lines 40 to 46). In addition, D11 suggests accommodating the test unit P in the control unit and even using existing components of the engine control unit for this purpose (column 5, lines 2 to 8, column 1, lines 59 to 62 and the dashed line in FIG. 2). Such a control device P / S1, for example the engine control device itself, is thus designed to check the access authorization of the transponder holder. The transmitting and receiving unit E of the test unit P could then be designed as an "immobilizer" within the meaning of claim 1, because it only serves to exchange data between the transponder and the control device.

The subject matter of claim 1 also results in an obvious way from the synopsis of the D12 with the D11 or the D12 with the D8. Taking into account the information in column 3, lines 49 to 52 of the D12, the reader and engine control unit form a physical identity. The antenna arrangement of the reader, which, as with the D11 or the D8, can be arranged in the area of ​​the ignition lock between the transponder and the motorized device, is to be interpreted as an immobilizer in the sense of the claim, whereby the transponder, as with the D11 or D8, with the ignition key can be combined.

The subject matter of the independent method claim 6 also results in an obvious manner from the D12 considered on its own or from the combination of the D12 with the D10 or the D12 with the D8. With the exception that the access authorization takes place with the interposition of an immobilizer on the motor vehicle side in the engine control device instead of in the reader, all method steps of method claim 6 are known from D12. However, the person skilled in the art received from the reference in column 3, lines 49 to 52 of D12, the suggestion to build the reader and the engine control unit within a single housing and even on the same circuit board. As a result, all procedural steps mentioned in the D12 reader would take place in the engine control unit. The antenna arrangement of the reader integrated in the engine control unit, which must inevitably lie between the transponder and the engine unit, can be interpreted as an "immobilizer" within the meaning of the claim, which results in the subject matter of claim 6. In addition, the interconnection of an immobilizer between the transponder and the engine control unit can also be found in D10 (column 2, lines 21 to 27) or D8 (summary).

Reasons for decision

1. The appeal complies with Articles 106 to 108 and Rules 1 (1) and 64 EPC; it is permissible.

2. Admissibility of the changes

The amended claim 1 contains all the features of the granted claim 1. To the characterizing part of the claim in the granted version, according to which the immobilizer does not generate any engine release or blocking information, the information has been added that the immobilizer does not transmit any engine release or blocking information to the engine control unit.

The basis for this restrictive information is the text passage on page 10, lines 13 to 14 of the originally submitted application documents. This addition only further restricted the claim to meet the requirements of Article 123 (2) and (3) EPC.

3. Interpretation of claims

3.1. In the preamble of claim 1, the three main components are mentioned which form the anti-theft device according to the invention, namely transponder, immobilizer and engine control unit. The terms "transponder" and "engine control unit" are sufficiently technically defined for those skilled in the relevant field. With the exception of D8, the term "immobilizer" is not to be found in the references cited by the respondent, although this term was used in connection with different parts of the anti-theft devices of these references in the course of the proceedings before the Chamber. It therefore proves to be expedient to interpret this term which is not always technically clearly assigned or assignable.

In so far as the definition and interpretation of a specific technical term is ambiguous to a person skilled in the relevant art, the case law of the boards of appeal states that when defining and interpreting that term, the patent constituting a substantiated document should be regarded as its own dictionary.

In column 1, lines 15 to 23 of the patent, reference is made to D8, an application by the patent owner, and it is specified that the "immobilizer" known from this document first checks the access authorization of the transponder identification code before sending a frequency code to the engine control unit sends. This term is actually used in the D8. The immobilizer 14 described therein is a device that is shown as a separate structure (D8: column 2, line 34, FIGS. 1-2). It also performs the function previously mentioned in the patent specification.

According to paragraph [0012] of the patent, "the function of the immobilizer according to the invention has been significantly changed compared to known anti-theft devices. Its sole task is to establish the connection between the transponder and the engine control unit in the initialization phase and thus to enable the exchange of data between these devices".

For the purpose of data exchange, the immobilizer contains at least one transmitting and receiving antenna, which is arranged in the area of ​​the ignition lock, in accordance with the details of claim 1. According to the exemplary embodiment of the patent specification, the object is achieved in that the immobilizer 3 carries out a first check or identification before it switches to passage and functions as a bidirectional data carrier. Here, too, the immobilizer 3 is shown as a separate structure, which has a computing unit 12, a memory 11 and a switch 15 to establish the connection during initialization (see figure, column 3, lines 35 to 38; column 4 , Lines 39 to 50 and column 5, lines 55 to 56 of the patent). The "establishment of the connection between the transponder and the engine control unit in the initialization phase" (through recognition or identification of a permissible transponder) must therefore also be implicitly included with the term "immobilizer".

3.2. According to the wording of method claim 6, certain method steps of the method according to the invention ("information from the engine control unit ... is transmitted to the transponder"; "in the engine control unit a reference code is calculated from stored information ...") are carried out in the engine control unit. According to the details of claim 1, certain functions ("the engine control unit itself for checking ... and the immobilizer is used for the relevant data exchange between the transponder and the engine control unit") are fulfilled by the engine control unit.

This information must be interpreted on the basis of the patent description. According to column 5, lines 18 to 35 of the patent, the immobilizer works exclusively as a transit station after initialization. The files (random information) transferred to the transponder are generated in the processor by the engine control unit and the reference code is calculated from information stored in the memory of the engine control unit. This means that common components of the engine control unit are directly involved in the specified process steps or in the fulfillment of the specified functions.

The use of existing components of the engine control unit leads to a particularly simple design of the anti-theft device (column 6, lines 1 to 3). The direct exchange of data between the transponder and the engine control unit increases the security against eavesdropping and makes manipulation and intervention possibilities on the device more difficult.

4. Novelty and inventive step

4.1. The D12 describes an anti-theft device for a motor vehicle consisting of a combination of an electronic key (transponder 1) and an electronic lock (reader 2). The transponder contains a transmitting and receiving antenna 11 as well as a computing unit 12 and a storage unit 13. The parties agreed that the reader with transmitting and receiving antenna 21 is to be compared with the immobilizer in the sense of the claims. Control devices are electrically connected to the reader.

The access authorization of the transponder holder is checked in the reader after a data exchange between the transponder and reader. After successful authentication, the reader sends release information AS to the control devices connected to the reader via communication lines so that they are enabled (D12: preamble of claim 1; column 3, lines 35 to 40; column 5, lines 43 to 47). The present claims 1 and 6, however, require that the data exchange between transponder and engine control unit takes place with the interposition of an immobilizer.

The device according to the D12 is characterized by a relatively large range (column 4, lines 5 to 6). The reader can be activated, for example, by operating the door handle (column 4, lines 41 to 43). As a result, the person skilled in the art is given a great deal of freedom in arranging the reader in the vehicle. There is absolutely no need to arrange the reader in the area of ​​the ignition lock. The transponder does not need to be combined with an ignition key. There is even no need for an ignition key.

The reference made by the respondent to column 3, lines 49 to 52 of D12 does not imply that the reading device no longer generates an enable signal AS. If, as the respondent asserted using column 5, lines 2 to 8 of the D11, it came to a common structure of the control device and the reader on the same circuit board within a single housing, then such a device would not have an immobilizer. Because of the advantageous security against eavesdropping and the large range between the transponder and the supposedly shared device, there is no reason to interpose an immobilizer. Removing the transmitting and receiving antenna 21 as a separate structure from the reading device and viewing it as an immobilizer in the sense of the claims misunderstood the importance of the immobilizer and originates from an impermissible retrospective view.

4.2. D11 describes an anti-theft device for a motor vehicle consisting of the combination of one or more transponders G1-G3, a test unit P and several control units Si, FIG.The transponders are combined with an ignition key and can contain a transmitting and receiving antenna as well as a computing unit and a memory unit (column 2, line 66 to column 3, line 9 and claim 4). The parties agreed that the test unit P with its transmitting and receiving antenna E is to be compared with the immobilizer in the sense of the claims. This test unit is arranged in the area of ​​the ignition lock (column 2, lines 11 to 17 and FIG. 1). The control units are electrically connected to the test unit via a BUS data line.

The D11 is based on the task of creating an immobilizer that offers the highest level of security against unauthorized use of a motor vehicle - even if control units are replaced, whereby the availability of the motor vehicle should also be guaranteed if a control unit that is not required for operation fails (column 1, Lines 21 to 25).

This problem is solved in that the control units each have an identification code which, when requested, is sent to the test unit P via the BUS data line and is compared there with a reference code. These codes can also be so-called alternating codes (column 5, lines 38 to 52). If at least a specified number of control units does not respond with their identification code, the control units are not released by the test unit and remain in an inactive state so that the motor vehicle cannot be started or driven (claim 1; column 3, lines 19 to 24) ).

The access authorization of the transponder owner is checked in the test unit after a data exchange between transponder G and test unit P and not, as in the present claims 1 and 6, between transponder and engine control unit via an immobilizer.

On the basis of the information in D11 (column 5, lines 2 to 8; column 1, line 46; dashed line in Figure 2), according to which the test unit can be accommodated in the control unit and can even use existing components of the engine control unit, the respondent has made the assertion that the test unit P / S1 could be designed as a "motor control unit" and the transmitting and receiving unit E of the test unit as an "immobilizer" within the meaning of the claims.

This interpretation fails to recognize that the transmitting and receiving antenna E is not able, as an independent unit, to establish the connection between the transponder and the engine control unit in the initialization phase. With the D11, this function is taken over by the test unit P or P / S1. As before, the common reading and control device must be viewed as an immobilizer within the meaning of claim 1.

Even if the test and control devices are housed together, there is a manipulable interface between such a device and the other control devices, because according to the basic concept of the D11 it is essential that the test unit exist as a separate data unit in order to transmit the release signal to be transmitted to the other control devices generate or receive the respective identification codes from these control units.

With regard to independent claim 6, D11 does not disclose the concept of allowing the calculation of the cryptologically determined codes or reference codes to take place in the transponder or in the engine control unit. Even in combination with the D12, it cannot therefore lead to the subject matter of this claim, because these documents include the interposition of a test unit to generate a release signal to the control units and to enable the identification code to be exchanged with them, or the interposition of a reader for the output of the release signal. The interposition of an immobilizer within the meaning of claim 6 is not suggested by any of these documents.

The subject matter of claims 1 and 6 does not result in an obvious way from looking at the D12 together with the D11.

4.3. The D8 discloses the concept of a changeover switch 15 in a so-called immobilizer control device 14. Such a changeover switch saves an interface to the engine control device.

When the vehicle is moving, the engine control unit 11 is connected via the switch to a distance signal transmitter 10, the driving-specific data for the control of important engine functions, such as. B. fuel injection, transmits to the engine control unit 11 (column 2, lines 25 to 35).

During a starting process with insertion and actuation of the ignition key equipped with the transponder 21, an unchangeable identification code stored in the transponder is transmitted to the control unit and checked (column 2, lines 46 to 55). If the identification code is recognized as correct, the route connection 12 is interrupted by the switch 15 and the immobilizer sends a frequency code 16 stored in the control unit 14 to the engine control unit. The frequency code is read in and evaluated by the engine control unit 11 via the input 13 of the distance signal, which has previously been switched accordingly by the changeover switch 15. The code stored in the engine control unit 11 is compared with the transmitted frequency code 16. If the frequency code 16 is recognized as correct, i. H. If the transmitted frequency code 16 and the stored code match, the engine control unit 11 enables the corresponding engine functions (column 3, lines 3 to 17).

There is no data exchange between the transponder and the engine control unit. The frequency code 16 stored in the immobilizer 14 and sent by it to the engine control unit is a constant audible file. It is compared with a code that is also stored as a constant file in a decoder of the engine control unit, for example. The D8 can therefore not be of assistance in the further development of the anti-theft device according to the D12 or D11 and their related procedure. Since the immobilizer 14 according to the D8 does not allow data to be exchanged between the transponder and the engine control unit 11, a combination of the D8 with the D11 or with the D12 cannot lead to the subject matter of claims 1 and 6, respectively.

4.4. The D10 describes an anti-theft device for a motor vehicle consisting of a combination of a code transmitter 7, a reception control device 3 and several control devices 1, 1 '.

Magnetic cards or IR transmitters, for example, are cited as code transmitters (column 2, line 20). Such code generators do not have a computing or storage unit. The reception control device, which could be designed as an immobilizer in the sense of the claims, is only used to receive and transmit the code to the control devices (column 2, lines 21 to 32). There is no data exchange between the code generator and the engine control unit, as required by the present claims 1 and 6.

The D10 is based on the task of enabling a substitution of the control units for the purpose of troubleshooting (column 1, lines 48 to 51).

This object is achieved in that the control units are also enabled if at least one of several code tests that have taken place one after the other is found to be valid, although, for example, the currently transmitted code is not valid. The code checks are carried out in a decoder 4 of the control unit by comparing the received code with a fixed code stored in the decoder. The result of the code checks is recorded in a memory of the control unit designed as a shift register with several storage locations and the contents of the storage locations are subjected to an OR link (claim 1; column 2, line 33 to column 3, line 13). The elements of code checking and code processing are housed in the control unit (column 4, lines 37 to 48).

Equipping the reception control device with a transmitting and receiving antenna in order to be able to communicate with a transponder also equipped with a transmitting and receiving antenna and located in the area of ​​the ignition lock, as suggested by the respondent, would also not constitute an anti-theft device according to the D11 model Claim 1 lead with a data exchange between transponder and engine control unit. In both documents D10, D11, for reasons essential to the invention, data is exchanged between the control units via a bus line (D8: transmission line 2, mentioned in claims 1 and 2; D10: already mentioned BUS line). This speaks in favor of retaining the receiving device 3 or the test unit P to check the access authorization of the transponder owner. As a further deviation from the subject matter of the patent, it can be stated that the conceptual structure of the decoders in the control units 1, 1 'of the anti-theft device according to the D10 is coordinated with a unidirectional data flow with fixed codes.

In addition, both citations refer to a dilution of the security concept of the immobilizer for reasons of service. A combination of these fonts would weaken the security to such an extent that it would not be considered by a person skilled in the art.

4.5. It follows from the foregoing that the concept of bidirectional data exchange between transponder and engine control unit with the interposition of an immobilizer according to the statements of claim 1 or claim 6 cannot be found in any of the cited references (Article 54 EPC) or suggested by the state of the art (Article 56 EPC).

DECISION FORMULA

For these reasons it is decided:

1. The contested decision is set aside.

2. The matter is referred back to the first instance with the order to maintain the patent with the following documents:

Claim 1 filed on December 12, 2001

Claims 2 to 11 as granted

Description and drawing as given