A global classification system for patent documents, the Cooperative Patent Classification scheme (CPC), was launched by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The system shows their joint effort to develop 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.
Including approximately 250 000 symbols initially based on the European Classification system (ECLA) and incorporating the best classification practices of both offices, the CPC now enables examiners and patent users worldwide to conduct patent searches by accessing the same classified patent document collections. This will lead to more efficient prior art searches and will enhance efficiency through work-sharing initiatives aimed at reducing 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.