EPO and USPTO launch Cooperative Patent Classification

2 January 2013

The EPO and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today launched the Cooperative Patent Classification scheme (CPC), a global classification system for patent documents. The system is the result of partnership between the EPO and the USPTO in their joint effort to develop a common, internationally compatible classification system for technical documents, in particular patent publications, which will be used by both offices in the patent granting process. The CPC is an ambitious harmonisation product that incorporates the best classification practices of both offices.

"The launch of the CPC constitutes a significant breakthrough in efforts to achieve greater harmonisation in the patent system at international level," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "It is a major step forward on the path to improved efficiency in the patent system for the benefit of the global economy, and key to securing effective patent protection through a quality-based patent system. The work accomplished in a very short period by the project teams and patent examiners of both offices deserves the recognition of the entire intellectual property community."

"Today's formal launch is a tremendous accomplishment, representing the collaborative efforts of both offices to create a bilateral classification system that will result in significant benefits to the global innovation community," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. "CPC will foster patent harmonisation efforts by enhancing our ability to leverage and use work through an integrated network of intellectual property offices."

Since October 2010, the EPO and the USPTO have worked jointly to develop the CPC. Including approximately 250 000 symbols initially based on the European Classification system (ECLA) and incorporating the best classification practices of both offices, the CPC now enables examiners and patent users worldwide to conduct patent searches by accessing the same classified patent document collections. This will not only lead to more efficient prior art searches. It will also enhance efficiency through work-sharing initiatives aimed at reducing unnecessary duplication of work.

CPC definitions containing a thorough description of the technical subject-matter covered will be provided for every CPC subclass and regularly updated. Distance learning will be made available to users in early 2013.

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