IPC Classsification

By Vinod Kr. Singh

One of the hot topics in the IP world today is IPC reform. Due to be published on 1 July 2005, and to come into effect on 1 January 2006, the eighth version of the IPC classification system (also referred to as IPC 2006) may not seem radically different from the previous IPC7, on first blush. But there are important benefits for patent searchers, attorneys, examiners and IP manager.

What is the IPC system?

The IPC classification system grew out of the Strasbourg Agreement of 1971 as an internationally acknowledged method of classifying patents for inventions, including published patent applications, utility models and utility certificates. Currently used in more than 100 countries as the major, or the only, form of classifying these documents, the purpose of the IPC system is to group patent documents according to the technical field in which they lie, independent of both language and terminology. As such, it is indispensable for retrieving patent documents to establish the novelty of an invention, or to determine the state of the art in a particular field.

What is IPC reform?

The IPC classification system is periodically reviewed in order to improve the system and to take into account technical and electronic developments. The IPC reform incorporates a number of key changes over and above the regular IPC revision. These include the addition of new entries (such as ‘traditional herbal medicines’), and a new two-level structure. This new structure divides the system into a ‘Core’ level, which satisfies the needs of small and medium-sized IP Offices, and an ‘Advanced’ level for those providing and searching larger patent collections. The rules, purpose and structure of the IPC symbols used for searching will not fundamentally change in the new edition, but the IPC will be more responsive to keep track of, and up with, recent explosions in technology.

Patent classifications (previous, current, and future) for those patents occurring in the major patent collections, ‘PCT Minimum Documentation’, will be kept up-to-date with the latest edition of the IPC. Searchers will no longer need to use different versions of the IPC to ensure a full coverage search of the major patent collections. Classifications will be maintained in a Master Classification Database (MCD) that will be accessible via esp@cenet. Finally, over time, useful background data will be added to a new ‘electronic layer’, containing supplementary online information, to help you search the IPC system effectively and efficiently.

Vinod Kr. Singh has a Master’s in Biotechnology with well developed skills and experience in patent searching, analysis, mapping and report writing. Expertise in Patent analysis, Infringement analysis, IP mapping.


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