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Cooperative Patent Classification System

The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) today announced the formal launch of the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system, a global classification system for patent documents.

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 that incorporates the best classification practices from both offices. It 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.

Since October 2010, the USPTO and EPO have 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 made available to users in early 2013.

For more detailed information about the new classification system, including the downloadable CPC schemes, CPC definitions and concordances (e.g. ECLA to CPC and CPC to IPC), please visit the official CPC website.

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