Reclassification of PCT documents to IPC 8th edition in May 2006

May 8, 2006


The 8 th edition of the International Patent Classification (IPC) came into force on the 1 st of January 2006. From that date, all published PCT applications, as well as the patent collections of national and regional offices, should be classified using the 8 th edition of the IPC.

An IPC master classification database (MCD) has been created for the purpose of collecting classification data of newly published documents classified according to the latest edition of the IPC and of previously published patent documents which were reclassified according to the latest edition so that all patent documentation can be searched using a single edition of the IPC.

Reclassification of PCT data

By the end of May 2006, the entire collection of published PCT applications available through the PatentScope service will be reclassified according to the 8 th edition of the IPC, based on the reclassification information made available from the MCD.

This reclassification has the following effects:

  • All published PCT applications, from 1978 to the present day, will be searchable using the symbols of the 8 th edition of the IPC.

  • The bibliographic data page of each international application (the first page displayed when clicking on a search result) will display the 8 th edition IPC symbols for the selected international application.

  • The original published documents, which have not been changed, display their original IPC classification symbols. The published documents are available in a variety of formats under the "Documents" page of the selected international application. This original classification will not be searchable.

In addition, the following exception should be noted:

  • Not all PCT applications are included in the MCD reclassification. There remains approximately 26,000 applications, mostly published in late 2005, which have not yet been reclassified to IPC 8. These will be reclassified when updated information is received from the MCD.

  • For those PCT applications that have not been reclassified to IPC 8, their original IPC symbols will be retained in the search index until they are reclassified to IPC 8.

Search Indices

To take advantage of the new features of the reformed IPC, the following changes to the search indices will be made:

  • Code IC/ may be used to search all classification symbols, that is symbols in ICI/ or ICN/.

  • Code ICI/ may be used to search only those classification symbols tagged as ‘inventive’.

  • Code ICN/ may be used to search only those classification symbols tagged as ‘non-inventive’.

  • Code MC/ (main classification) will no longer be supported. Unfortunately the MCD reclassification data, and classification from several PCT International Search Authorities, do not identify the main classification symbol for a document and so a meaningful search cannot be conducted on the main classification.

Correction of 2006 Publications

Although the 8 th edition of the IPC came into force on the 1 st of January 2006, the International Bureau continued to receive IPC classification data from International Search Authorities using the 7 th edition of the IPC.

To the extent possible, the 7 th edition symbols will be corrected to 8 th edition symbols for all applications published or republished in 2006. This correction will take place at the same time as the reclassification in May 2006.

Where the correction is not possible, for example, when the 7 th edition code has no direct equivalent in the 8 th edition, the corrections will take place as soon as corrected classification symbols are received from the PCT International Search Authorities, or from the MCD.

Information for 3 rd Party Data Providers

The International Bureau has retained lists of reclassified PCT applications and the exception cases noted above. To to assist 3 rd party data providers in classifying their PCT data collections, these lists are available on request.

More Information

More information on the reform of the IPC is available on the IPC reform pages of the WIPO web site.  Comments and queries are welcome.