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Auswirkungen auf die Produkte des EPA

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This section describes how the EPO applies the IPC to its products.

Patent documents

All European patent documents show the relevant IPC symbols on their front page. There is a difference in style between the documents published before IPC reform (i.e. before 1.1.2006) and those published after the IPC reform. For documents published after 1.1.2006:

  • IPC classes are printed in two columns, in smaller type than before the IPC reform
  • There is no distinction between “main classification” and “other classification”
  • Classification symbols for “invention” information are printed in bold italics
  • Classification symbols for “additional” information are printed in italics
  • The applicable version of the IPC for each class is shown in brackets

Before IPC reform, i.e before January 2006

After IPC reform, i.e after January 2006

(51) Int. Cl. 7 : C07D 231/56, C07D 417/12,

C07D 401/04, C07D 409/14 ,

C07D 401/06,C07D 409/12

(51) Int. Cl. :

C07D 231/56 (2006.01) C07D 417/12 (2006.01)

C07D 401/04 (2006.01) C07D 409/14 (2006.01)

C07D 401/06 (2006.01) C07D 409/12 (2006.01)

European Publication Server

It is possible to search at sub-group level (eg A47G) on the European Publication Server. There is no differentiation between classifications for invention and additional information.

EPO raw data

EPO raw data forms the basis for many professional patent information products. It is used by database hosts and other commercial patent information providers, all of whom are dependent on it for their work.

The regular updates to EPO raw data include the latest classifications given to patent documents and retain any earlier classifications allocated under the pre.-IPC reform versions 1 to 7 of the IPC. However, when the IPC is revised and documents receive a new classification they overwrite those in the current IPC field and old classifications are lost.

More detailed information on the raw data formats is available in the "Information on EPO data" section.


In Espacenet, the symbol used will be searched across all IPC fields, pre and post IPC reform.

"Auto-truncation" is used in the IPC search field, e.g. "A61K" will search all classes and subclasses in A61K.

The IPC symbols are displayed in order according to the following priorities:

  • Invention information before additional information,
  • Post-reform IPC symbols will be displayed before IPC symbols from earlier versions (1-7),
  • Old IPC symbols (versions 1-7) will be displayed in normal font, and prefixed with the label "(IPC1-7)".

Worth remembering:

The IPC search possibilities in Espacenet are a way of limiting or focussing your search.

You are limited to ten search terms per field and the allowable Boolean operators are: AND OR NOT.

EPO subscription databases and retrieval software

EPO subscription databases contain searchable fields for all the types of classification information available in the respective database.

EPO Global Patent Index, ESPACE EP, ESPACE Bulletin and ESPACE ACCESS-EPB also contain a "super index" named IPC combining the classification symbols assigned under old IPC versions with the current symbols. 

European Patent Register

The European Patent Register (and the European Patent Bulletin) carry the IPC information that is printed on the original patent application. If later publications (e.g. the search report or the granted patent) carry different IPCs to the first publication, the Register data is updated, but the “old” classification is maintained in the database under “history”. IPC classes will not be amended in the Register if the patent document in question is reclassified at a later date following the publication of a new version of the IPC.

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