Updated International Patent Information Retrieval System available On-Line

Geneva, August 9, 2005
Press Updates UPD/2005/259

A new, updated edition of an international system designed to facilitate search and retrieval of patent information in all fields of technology is now available in English and French language versions on the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (www.wipo.int/classifications/ipc). This WIPO-administered system, known as the International Patent Classification (IPC), is a hierarchical classification system covering all fields of technology and is indispensable for efficient retrieval of patent information. The IPC is periodically revised to take account of technological developments and to ensure a more user-friendly and accessible patent classification and search tool for specialists and non-specialists alike. The new (eighth) edition is the product of a 6-year process of reform designed to adapt the IPC to the electronic environment for improved efficiency in retrieval of patent information and to facilitate its use by industrial property offices and the general public.

“The new edition of the IPC will significantly increase the efficiency of the search and retrieval of patent information,” said Francis Gurry, Deputy Director General. “The IPC reform process has been extremely fruitful and has enabled the establishment of a global system for generating, processing and distributing patent classification information. This means that industrial property offices and the general public worldwide now have a universal search tool for patent information at their fingertips” he added.

The new edition of the IPC will enter into force on January 1, 2006. From that date all published patent documents will be classified according to that edition. The reform of the IPC has resulted in a number of fundamental changes to the structure and methods of revision and use of the IPC, as follows:

  • The IPC has been divided into two levels – the core and advanced levels – to better satisfy the differing needs of industrial property offices, both large and small, and the general public;
  • An electronic layer has been created to include data to illustrate IPC entries and provide detailed explanations including definitions of classification entries and structural chemical formulae;
  • The principle of reclassification of search files has been introduced to ensure that only the most recent version of the IPC is used when undertaking a patent information search;
  • A Master Classification Database has been established which will contain a global collection of patent documents classified according to the most recent version of the IPC;
  • Revision amendments to the seventh edition have also been included and, in total, over 1,400 new entries have been introduced to the new edition of the IPC;
  • One new class and five new subclasses relating to new technologies have also been created. These include:
  • A main group (A61K 36/00) for traditional medicine based on the use of plants. Such information represents the most important part of documented traditional knowledge. This new enhancement provides classification-based access to traditional knowledge as prior art and will thereby facilitate information searches relating to traditional knowledge-based innovations. Inventors wishing to obtain a patent are obliged to fulfill certain criteria which require the examination of the state of technological developments in the relevant sector, known as “prior art”, to determine the patentability of their invention.
  • A subclass (B60W) for methods or systems for conjoint control of vehicle sub-units of different function and for control of hybrid vehicles;
  • A subclass (C40B) for combinatorial chemistry – a new area in chemical technology applied to drug synthesis and discovery which allows for preparation of thousands of chemical compounds (chemical libraries) in one synthesis;
  • A subclass (G06Q) for business methods. This was created in view of the dramatic increase in the number of patent applications relating to the application of data processing systems or methods for administrative, commercial, financial and managerial purposes.

The complete text of the eighth edition, in English and French, is available from the Internet (www.wipo.int/classifications/ipc). The printed version of the core level of the IPC is available from WIPO (please see www.wipo.int/ebookshop for further information). Additional IPC-related material, such as Catchword Indexes to the IPC, the Revision Concordance List and the new version of the IPC:CLASS CD-ROM will be published later in the year.

Changes to the IPC were prepared by WIPO member states and intergovernmental organizations participating in the IPC Revision Working Group and approved by the IPC Committee of Experts. The IPC is based on the Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent Classification, a WIPO-administered international treaty which was concluded in 1971 and entered into force in 1975. The agreement is open to states party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Although only 55 states are currently party to this agreement, the IPC is used by the industrial property offices of more than 100 states, four regional offices and WIPO under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

For further information, please contact the Media Relations and Public Affairs Section at WIPO: Tel: (+41 22) 338 8161 or (+41 22) 338 95 47; e-mail: publicinf@wipo.int; fax: (+41 22) 338 8280.