The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) announced publication of a classification system meant to speed the patent granting process for applicants to both Offices.
The Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system and finalized CPC definitions are now available in advance of the January 1, 2013, official launch. The CPC is a joint USPTO-EPO project aimed at developing a common classification system for technical documents in particular patent publications, which will be used by both offices in the patent granting process.
The CPC system, which includes approximately 250,000 classification symbols based on the International Patent Classification (IPC) system, will enable users to conduct efficient prior art searches and incorporate the best classification practices of both the U.S. and European systems. It will also enhance efficiency through work-sharing initiatives designed to reduce unnecessary duplication of work.
The EPO and USPTO both have highly developed patent classification systems. CPC is an ambitious harmonization effort to bring the best practices from each Office together. In fact, most U.S. patent documents are already classified in ECLA. The conversion from ECLA to CPC at the EPO will ensure IPC compliance and eliminate the need for the EPO to classify U.S. patent documents. At the USPTO, the conversion will provide an up-to date classification system that is internationally compatible.
What is CPC?
The Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) effort is a joint partnership between the USPTO and the EPO where the Offices have agreed to harmonize their existing classification systems (ECLA and USPC, respectively) and migrate towards a common classification scheme. This is a strategic decision by both offices and is seen as an important step towards advancing harmonization efforts currently being undertaken through the IP5’s Common Hybrid Classification (CHC) project.
The migration to CPC will be developed based in large part on the existing European Classification System (ECLA) and will be modified to ensure compliance with the International Patent Classification system (IPC) standards administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Since October 2010, the USPTO and EPO have worked jointly to develop the CPC. The results of their work are now being made available through a CPC launch package that includes the complete CPC system, any finalized CPC definitions and a CPC-to-IPC concordance.
The CPC definitions will be available for every CPC subclass and contain a description of the technical subject matter covered in the subclass. Eventually, each CPC subclass will have a corresponding CPC definition that will be continuously maintained. The CPC-to-IPC concordance will help users find the relevant IPC area on which the CPC is based.
For more detailed information about the new classification system, including downloadable sections, CPC definitions and concordances, please visit the official CPC website.
See also: Moving towards a global patent system