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The EPO and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have launched a website on the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC), a joint project aimed at developing a classification scheme for inventions that will be used by both offices.
The website, www.cpcinfo.org, contains detailed information about the new classification scheme and the project's progress for staff at the EPO, USPTO and other patent offices as well as industry and the user community.
"The launch of the CPC website one year after the signing of the agreement is a first significant achievement on the way to greater harmonization in the patent system," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "The innovation market is a global market, and in order to efficiently support it with a quality-based patent system, it is essential that patent offices in the large economic regions align the procedures and tools."
"The new classification system not only benefits both offices, it will also make it easier for innovators to use the wealth of information contained in patent documents. It is an important part of our commitment to offering better services to innovators and industry," he said.
"The development of a common basis for classifying inventions is a further step forward in bringing the European and the United States' patent systems closer together," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, David Kappos. "This comes at an opportune time when the United States has introduced a major reform of the patent system in an effort to better align with the rest of the world," he said.
"The project is also a stepping stone towards harmonizing the patent procedures of all the major patent offices around the globe," he added.
The CPC will be a detailed IPC-based scheme that will enable patent examiners to efficiently conduct thorough patent searches. It will incorporate the best classification practices from both the US and European systems. The Offices also believe that the CPC will enhance efficiency and support work-sharing initiatives with a view to reduce unnecessary duplication of work.
The two offices plan to start using the new scheme on 1 January 2013.