USPTO and EPO Publish Advance Version of Cooperative Patent Classification System

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) today announced early publication of a 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 in advance of the January 1, 2013, official launch. 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.

“This is an important milestone for the USPTO and EPO as we continue to eliminate duplication of work between the two Offices,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos.

“The EPO and the USPTO have every reason to be proud of what they have achieved in the remarkably short space of time since the agreement that initiated the project was signed on October 25, 2010,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. “In less than two years, we have finalized and published a joint scheme incorporating the best classification practices of both offices, which will align our patent procedures more closely and deliver major efficiency gains. In the process, the CPC will be a stepping stone towards a more general harmonization of the world’s patent systems.”

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.

Since October 2010, the USPTO and EPO have worked jointly to develop the CPC. The results of their work are now being made available through a CPC launch package that includes the complete CPC system, any finalized CPC definitions and a CPC-to-IPC concordance.

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.

For more detailed information about the new classification system, including downloadable sections, CPC definitions and concordances, please visit the official CPC website.

For non-press inquiries about CPC, contact Wynn Coggins at 571-272-1850 or


Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of Read more.

Join the Discussion

7 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for examiner-xyz]
    October 3, 2012 12:35 pm

    Thanks for making my point. We have Y10S for misc things not provided ECLA (digests) and business methods.

  • [Avatar for John]
    October 2, 2012 10:49 am

    examiner-xyz wrote -Can someone show me where the US classification practice has been incorporated?

    Why yes I can indeed. The EPO have taken over almost the entire 705 class from the USPTO.

  • [Avatar for PS DIP]
    PS DIP
    October 2, 2012 08:34 am

    XYZ – I’ll laugh with you rather than get mad. The USPTO and the EPO met and did incorporate “the best classification practices of both offices”. Unfortunately for you, they decided that meant 99% of the ECLA schedule and 1% of the USPC schedule. Y10S (which I provided) is the 1% in answer to your query “Can someone show me where the US classification practice has been incorporated?” I agree with you that this is not what I would have done personally, but it did require the least work and resources from the USPTO which freed up those resources for other things (namely COPA).

    With regard to classifying all your art in one broad (and stimulating for some) subclass – We already have that problem with US examiners treatment of the IPC schedule and have learned to work around it. We expect to do the same for the next 3 years with the CPC since the USPTO insists on a concordance rather than education. Thanks for your reply though. Enjoy another day of fun in 606/136!

  • [Avatar for Paul Cole]
    Paul Cole
    October 2, 2012 05:14 am

    Dave Kappos visited the UK last year and during a lecture that he gave on new developments at the USPTO made much the same point in relation to classification as PS DIP made in his first paragraph. If the development effort has not been made over a period of years, it is not easy to reverse this. You have to look at the legacy of James Rogan and Jon Dudas, not what Dave Kappos is doing when handed that legacy. And as our efforts are becoming increasingly international, a harmonised classification system is no bad thing.

    I am not sure that a reference to A61H 21/00 is helpful or even exhibits normal professional politeness. However, I recall that in mechanical engineering something that has once been screwed up can readily be unscrewed. Life, as we all know, is usually not like that.

    Incidentally, in Europe we used to be working towards a Europe-wide patent under the Comminity Patent Convention (CPC). Now that the initials have been pre-empted what are we to call the law that governs the Community patent when it eventually comes into force?

  • [Avatar for examiner-xyz]
    October 1, 2012 10:33 pm

    Read my comment.again dork. I was commenting on the spin in the article. However since you are such a sport , I think I will classify all my cases in A61H 21/00 from now on just to honor you.

  • [Avatar for PS DIP]
    PS DIP
    October 1, 2012 04:27 pm

    Examiner XYZ – What? You’re not happy with the wonderful Y10S area? Of course the US completely capitulated. The US hasn’t done squat with regard to classification or reclassification in over ten years. We handed the lead to the EPO just as the volume of art was getting ready to take off. Did you expect Kappos to wave a wand and fix the unholy mess his predecessors created? His mandate was and is the backlog.

    The USPTO needs to teach the US examiners how to use classification. That should be goal number 1 right now. The EPO has given us a system for free. Make the best of it. If we treat it the same way we treated the USPC for the last decade+, the new CPC will be a disaster. Push your bosses to give lots of other time to teach classification. Get the EPO trainers to come over and provide classes. Please!!! No one at the USPTO knows how to use the CPC (or ECLA or IPC), and so far I’ve heard no one admitting this. We who rely on classification as a large part of our prior art searching really need you and your peers to take it seriously. Please don’t rely on the concordance. Use your brains and figure out where things are supposed to go, not where an out-of-date and broad brush stroke book tells you where to put them.

  • [Avatar for examiner-xyz]
    October 1, 2012 10:53 am

    “incorporating the best classification practices of both offices” – I think not. The USPTO caved to the EPO system. Can someone show me where the US classification practice has been incorporated?