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Patent documents get global classification system

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The European Patent Office (EPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have launched the Cooperative Patent Classification scheme (CPC).

This global classification system for patent documents is the result of joint development by the two offices since October 2012. The aim of this effort has been 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 said to include approximately 250 000 symbols initially based on the European Classification system (ECLA) and incorporates the best classification practices of both offices. The new system should enable examiners and patent users worldwide to conduct patent searches by accessing the same classified patent document collections and improve efficiency of searches, believe the partners.

'The launch of the CPC constitutes a significant breakthrough in efforts to achieve greater harmonisation in the patent system at international level,' commented Benoît Battistelli, president of the EPO. '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,” agreed 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.'

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