Monday, July 14, 2014

Let's Learn About the New Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC)

What is CPC?

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) was initiated as a joint partnership between the USPTO and the European Patent Office (EPO) where the Offices have agreed to harmonize their existing classification systems (ECLA and USPC, respectively) and migrate towards a common classification scheme.  This was a strategic decision by both offices and is seen as an important step towards advancing harmonization efforts currently being undertaken through the IP5's Working Group 1 on Classification. 

Beginning on January 1, 2015, the CPC will be used to classify patents that are approved by the USPTO. Actually,  the conversion to CPC by the USPTO has already been occurring. By January 1, 2015, the conversion by the USPTO will provide an up-to-date classification system that is internationally compatible.   This is really neat, as you can then be able to search in Europe and the United States using the same classification numbering system. This partnership has developed 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.

CPC and IPC present the same hierachical structure, from sections to groups.  All information available in IPC is also available in CPC and classified practically in the same way.  CPC does not have many more subdivisions than the IPC, that is, many more subgroups.  An IPC group is not used in the CPC.

The CPC is constantly revised in collaboration between USPTO and EPO experts.  The revision process is flexible enough as to ensure the structure is up-to-date.  The CPC is an international, fexible, and highly specific classification scheme, which takes the patent world one step further towards global harmonization.