World Intellectual Property Organization

Adoption of the simplification of the International Patent Classification System

The Committee of Experts of the IPC Union and the Workshop for users of the IPC held at the headquarters of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva from February 8 to 12, 2010, have started to work on the implementation of a simplified structure of the IPC which should enter into force with the new IPC edition in January 2011.
The adoption of the new structure was endorsed by the IPC Union Assembly in September 2009, and users, industry, commercial patent information vendors are expected to fully participate in its implementation to be led by WIPO and its member States in 2010.
The IPC system divides all fields of technology into hierarchical sets of sections, classes, subclasses and groups.  It is an indispensable tool for industrial property offices, in conducting searches to establish the novelty of an invention, or to determine the state of the art in a particular area of technology.  The IPC is also used by industry to search competitors’ patents and to find technological information to aid research and development.   
The new edition will introduce a number of fundamental changes for simplification of the structure and will be the starting point of greater integration of national or regional classifications currently in use to supplement the IPC: 
  • The IPC structure will be simplified by abolishing the distinction between the core and advanced levels. Offices currently using the core level will be able to use the main groups in this unified structure.  An updated IPC version will be published every year on January 1, with the possibility of a second publication in case of large numbers of modifications;
  • In view of the abolishment of the distinction between the core and advanced levels, the regular revision procedure of the IPC has already been simplified, being conducted by a unique technical body under the responsibility of the IPC Committee of Experts. New working procedures will enhance the use of the e-Forum, through which technical experts conduct consultations in pursuit of greater efficiency and quality of revision work;
  • Development of the IPC will be accelerated with the aim of building an integral, unified international patent classification by progressively integrating national or regional classification systems such as the United States Classification, the European Classification (ECLA) and the Japan Patent Office FI/F Term under the new working procedures;
  • A new electronic publication platform of the IPC has been developed, integrating the possibility of searching in the text of the IPC.
The new edition will enter into force on January 1, 2011, and will be available for consultation using the new publication platform already in July 2010.

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