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U.S., Europe Agree on Patent Classification Principles

File cabinets (waferboard/Flickr)The U.S. and European patent authorities have agreed on the principles for a new system of classifying patents in their respective jurisdictions. A common classification system is expected to make it easier to search for patents across national boundaries.

The United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) and European Patent Office (EPO) agreed that the new Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system will be co-managed by the two agencies and based on the International Patent Classification (IPC) system, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The CPC will also incorporate the best classification practices of the USPTO.  The jointly developed classification system is expected to be more detailed than the IPC to improve patent searching.

The IPC provides for a hierarchical system of language-independent symbols. That system divides technology into eight sections with some 70,000 subdivisions. Each subdivision has a symbol consisting of Arabic numerals and letters of the Latin alphabet.

The European and U.S. offices also agreed on a governance structure, a quality management process, and the outline of an implementation plan.  A CPC training pilot will be held at the USPTO in March 2011 to define training needs and explore training techniques.  A CPC follow up meeting is scheduled for spring 2011 at the USPTO.

Read more: USA, EU, Japan Patent Offices Vow To Improve Work Sharing

Hat tip: Paul Fucito

Photo: waferboard/Flickr

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