The invention is directed to a method to more easily track and trace manufactured products. Conventional identification systems stored an individual record for each unit coupling the identifier of the unit to the corresponding container identifier, thereby requiring a large amount of data storage.
The method according to the invention is more memory efficient and includes identifying manufactured items in containers containing a plurality of units wherein each unit is marked with a unique unit identifier 2/2 and each container with a unique container identifier. The method further comprises storing in a database the container identifiers coupled to the one or more ranges of unit identifiers of the plurality of units allocated to the corresponding container.
The Board accepted the conclusion from the Examining Division that claim 1 differed from the closest prior art by the features:
Related to item 1, the Examining Division had argued that the determination of ranges of unit identifiers was an administrative task for identifying the items. In response, the appellant argued that (point 2.4 of the decision):
“ranges of unit identifiers did not have a meaning for the business person because they did not exist in the business area. They would be used in combination with production details and only for saving storage space, which was a technical contribution. This further enabled an authentication process to be implemented for products which were produced in very high numbers using standard data processing equipment”
However, the Board disagreed with the appellant and considered that said feature belonged to the business specification and that the unit identifiers had a meaning for the business person as “they correspond to batches of units produced on a production line”.
Regarding item 2, the Board indicated that the description showed that (item 2.6)
“the determination of ranges of unit identifiers is rather linked to the number of possible ways of organizing items of a group of items based on how they are produced, that is, the number of batches, than to the way in which data can be stored”.
Therefore the Board concluded that when considering business requirements, it would be obvious for the skilled person to store in a database ranges of unit identifiers linked to containers.
Furthermore, the Board was of the opinion that, even if said feature would be considered to achieve a technical effect, it would be “a matter of routine design for the skilled person, a software programmer or a database expert, based on common general knowledge to store the first and the last element of a list of items, instead of the whole list”.
In view of this, the lack of inventive step was maintained and the appeal was dismissed.
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