T 0964/12 (Fulfillment coordination/SAP)
SAP has lodged another appeal against a decision from the Examining division of the EPO.
The invention relates to supply chain management, with help of a computer.
In this case, the EPO as International Searching Authority issued a no-search declaration.
Once in the regional phase, the Examining division refused the application on the premise that nothing contributed to the technical character of the method claimed (business method) and thus the subject-matter was excluded from patentability.
However, claim 1 was substantially amended between the PCT phase and the appeal.
In Europe, an invention is considered to be a technical solution to a technical problem.
The interesting point in this decision is that it mainly relates to whether the invention comprised no, or merely notorious, technical features. Then it mainly focuses on the technical solution.
But if the board of appeal rightfully considers that an additional search must be carried out, it remained silent on the technical problem.
The decision under appeal is set aside and the case is remitted to the department of first instance for further prosecution.
Accordingly, the examining division will carry out an additional search and examine the case. In the examination proceeding to come, the technical problem might then raise.
Let’s bet this is not the last appeal in this case.