EPO and USPTO harmonize Patent Classification

Historically, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) used two different patent classifications for organizing patents and patent applications, namely the European Classification System (ECLA) and the US Patent Classification (USPC).

These two classification systems led to inconsistent treatment of the applications, the search conducted, and the search results obtained. Furthermore, documents needed to be classified in the two systems.

In order to remedy to these drawbacks, the EPO and the USPTO launched in October 2010 the Cooperative Patent Classification Project.

After two years of development, the Cooperative Patent Classification is about to enter into force. Since November 2010, the USPC scheme has been frozen, and from July 2012, the ECLA scheme has been frozen.

From January 1st, 2013, the CPC will be used by the EPO and the USPTO.

Major changes are:

The new classification has 250 000 classification entries compared to 135 000 entries in the ECLA and allows a more detailed classification.

The alphanumeric symbols after the “/” used in the ECLA scheme (e.g. H01L21/027B) will be converted into purely numeric symbols (e.g. H01L21/02709).

The CPC is based on the existing International Patent Classification (IPC), but introduces a new class “Y” for new technological developments, cross-sectional technologies spanning over several sections of the International Patent Classification and technical subjects covered by former USPC Cross Reference Art Collection.

More information can be found at the official website of the CPC.

If you have questions on the above, feel free to contact Oliver Tischner.

  • Publication date: November 2012
  • By : Oliver TISCHNER
    IP ALERT Munich
  • Subject(s) : Patents
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