Major milestone reached in preparation for 1 January 2013 launch of Cooperative Patent Classification

1 October 2012

The European Patent Office (EPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are pleased to announce that the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) scheme and some finalised CPC definitions are now available in preparation for the 1 January 2013 official launch. The CPC is a joint project aimed at developing a common classification scheme for technical documents, in particular patent publications, which will be used by both offices in the patent granting process.

The EPO and USPTO have worked jointly to develop CPC, and the results are now being made available through a "CPC launch package" which includes the complete CPC scheme, any finalised CPC definitions and an ECLA-to-CPC-to-IPC concordance.

The CPC scheme is based on the latest version of the International Patent Classification (IPC) system, with sections A through H plus an additional section Y which includes new technological developments and cross-sectional technologies. There are approximately 250 000 classification symbols available in the CPC. The CPC definitions will be available for every CPC subclass and will 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.

"The EPO and the USPTO have every reason to be proud of what they have achieved in the remarkably short space of time since the agreement that initiated the project was signed on 25 October 2010," said EPO President Battistelli. He added: "In less than two years, we have finalised and published a joint scheme incorporating the best classification practices of both offices, which will align our patent procedures more closely and deliver major efficiency gains. In the process, the CPC will be a stepping stone towards a more general harmonisation of the world's patent systems."

"This is an important milestone for the USPTO and EPO as we continue to eliminate duplication of work between the two Offices," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos.

The website,, contains detailed information about the new classification scheme, including downloadable sections of the scheme, CPC definitions and concordances. It also provides information on the progress of the project, offering presentation materials and other useful information for our stakeholders, including other patent offices worldwide, industry and users.

The CPC is a detailed IPC-based patent classification scheme that will enable efficient prior art searches to be conducted. It will incorporate the best classification practices of both the US and European systems. It is also expected to enhance efficiency by supporting work-sharing initiatives designed to reduce unnecessary work duplication.

The two offices will start using the CPC scheme on 1 January 2013.

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