The newly launched Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) is the result of over two years joint effort between the USPTO and EPO to create a scheme that combines the best practices of both offices. In their statements, both USPTO Director David Kappos and EPO President Benoît Battistelli emphasized “harmonization” and “efficiency”.
The purpose of this project was to develop a shared classification system for technical documents, specifically the publications associated with the patent granting process, which would be used by both offices. The new scheme incorporates approximately 250,000 symbols, derived from the classifications used by the EPO, as well as best practices for classification, derived from both the USPTO and EPO.
The unification allows patent examiners and other users to conduct searches worldwide using the same classified patent document collections. This should make prior art searches more efficient, by eliminating the differences between patents processed by the USPTO and EPO. This should also make processing at each office more efficient, by allowing subsequent examiners to leverage the work done by their predecessors, reducing duplication of effort.
To facilitate transition to the CPC scheme, documentation will provide a thorough description of the technical subject-matter encompassed within each classification. There are plans to provide remote training early this year.
Additional information, including the history of the project, as well as documentation of the CPC scheme and definitions can be found at the official CPC website.