Europe and China agree to use same patent classification system (CPC)

4 June 2013

EPO and SIPO sign a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance cooperation in patent classification

The EPO and the State Intellectual Property Office of the P.R.C. (SIPO) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance their cooperation in the area of patent classification. Under the terms of the MoU, as of January 2014, the SIPO will start classifying its newly published invention patent applications in some selected technical fields into the CPC after receiving dedicated training from the EPO, and will strive to classify its new invention patent applications according to the CPC in all technical areas from January 2016. The corresponding classification data will be shared with the EPO. The CPC is the most refined classification system for patent documents in the world (250 000 subdivisions) which entered into force at the EPO and at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on 1 January 2013. It is largely based on the European Classification (ECLA) system formerly used at the EPO.

"With the SIPO introducing the CPC as its internal classification scheme alongside the International Patent Classification (IPC), access to Chinese patent documentation will be dramatically improved. Using classification symbols supports our endeavour to overcome the remaining language barriers," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "It is a fantastic accomplishment in terms of harmonisation of our patent systems and the recognition of the CPC as a global system which can be used by many patent offices around the world."

"The introduction of the CPC at SIPO to classify Chinese patent documents is another significant achievement to promote the bilateral cooperation between the two offices. The number of Chinese invention patent applications ranked first in the world consecutively in 2011 and 2012. Furthermore, in July 2012, Chinese patent documents were formally included into the PCT Minimum Documentation. Classifying Chinese patent documents into the CPC will undoubtedly improve the search efficiency of these documents by the examiners of various patent offices worldwide, and help these documents better serve global users as well," said SIPO Commissioner Tian Lipu.

The CPC is already used by more than 45 patent offices worldwide as a means to perform efficient prior art searches during the patent granting process. The ability to retrieve relevant documents published by the SIPO will be greatly enhanced in the future.

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