Patent decision

BL number
Concerning rights in
Hearing Officer
Mr B Buchanan
Decision date
25 July 2019
Person(s) or Company(s) involved
Ocado Innovation Limited
Provisions discussed
PA 1977 section 1(2)(c)
Excluded fields (refused)
Related Decisions


The claimed invention is directed towards determining how to fulfil online customer orders for products by analysing requirements and capabilities and identifying options for fulfilment from a large and/or a small fulfilment centre using a standard predefined container size.

As well as the claims on file, a main and two auxiliary claims requests were considered at the hearing. These added the features of causing automated operation; taking account of robotic picker characteristics within a fulfilment centre; and optimising decisions using reinforcement learning / AI.

The Hearing Officer followed the four step Aerotel test to determine whether there was a technical contribution. He applied the first of the AT&T signposts as modified in HTC and took account of Halliburton and Cappellini. He also referred to the EPO Guidelines for Examination on Artificial intelligence and machine learning. For each of the claim sets, the contribution was not found to provide the required technical effect and he found that the claimed invention related solely to a method for doing business and a program for a computer as such, so the application did not meet the requirements of section 1(2)(c). The application was refused under section 18(3).

Full decision O/434/19 PDF document330Kb