Applicants for national or international IP protection are required to determine whether their creation is new or owned/claimed by someone else. To determine this, huge amounts of information must be searched. International classifications facilitate such searches by organizing information concerning inventions, trademarks and industrial designs into indexed, manageable structures for easy retrieval.
The International Patent Classification (IPC) is used to classify patents and utility models according to the different areas of technology to which they pertain. The IPC was established by the Strasbourg Agreement in 1971 and is continuously revised by the IPC Committee of Experts.
The Locarno Classification (LOC) is an international system used to classify goods for the purposes of the registration of industrial designs. It was established by the Locarno Agreement in 1968 and is continuously revised by the Committee of Experts of the Locarno Union.
The Nice Classification (NCL) is an international system used to classify goods and services for the purposes of the registration of marks. The Nice Classification was established by the Nice Agreement in 1957 and is continuously revised by the Committee of Experts of the Nice Union.
The Vienna Classification (VCL) is a hierarchical system that classifies the figurative elements of marks into categories, divisions and sections, on the basis of their shape. It was established by the Vienna Agreement in 1973 and is continuously revised by the Committee of Experts of the Vienna Union.