USPTO and EPO Announce Launch of Cooperative Patent Classification System

The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) dated Janyary 2nd 2013 announced the formal launch of the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system, a global new classification system for patent documents that includes best classification prcatices from USPTO and EPO.

An ambitious harmonization effort, CPC is the product of a joint partnership between the USPTO and the EPO to develop a common, internationally compatible classification system for technical documents used in the patent granting process.. The new classification system will be used by the USPTO and more than 45 patent offices – a user community totaling more than 20,000 patent examiners – all sharing the same classifications helping to establish the CPC as an international standard.

The USPTO and EPO have since October 2010 worked jointly to develop the CPC system, which includes approximately 250,000 classification symbols based on the International Patent Classification (IPC) system thus enabling examiners and patent users worldwide to conduct searches by accessing the same classified patent document collections. CPC will lead to more efficient prior art searches and enhance efficiency through work-sharing initiatives designed to reduce unnecessary duplication of work.

CPC definitions containing a thorough description of the technical subject-matter covered will be provided for every CPC subclass and regularly updated. Distance learning will be also made available to users in early 2013.