Far in advance of the estimated January 1st 2013 launch, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) recently published a new classification system meant to speed the patent granting process for applicants to both Offices.
The Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system and finalized CPC definitions are now available. The CPC is a joint USPTO-EPO project aimed at developing a common classification system for technical documents in particular patent publications, which will be used by both offices in the patent granting process.
The CPC system, which includes approximately 250,000 classification symbols based on the International Patent Classification (IPC) system, will enable users to conduct efficient prior art searches and incorporate the best classification practices of both the U.S. and European systems. It will also enhance efficiency through work-sharing initiatives designed to reduce unnecessary duplication of work.
The CPC definitions will be available for every CPC subclass and contain a description of the technical subject matter covered in the subclass. Eventually, each CPC subclass will have a corresponding CPC definition that will be continuously maintained. The CPC-to-IPC concordance will help users find the relevant IPC area on which the CPC is based.
Detailed information about the new classification system, including downloadable sections, CPC definitions and concordances, can be found at the official CPC website.