Earlier this year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and European Patent Office announced the formal launch of the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system, a global classification system for patent documents. The CPC system includes approximately 250,000 classification symbols based on the International Patent Classification (IPC), which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and incorporates classification practices from both the U.S. and European systems. At the formal launch of the CPC system, the USPTO noted that the system would be used by the USPTO and more than 45 patent offices.
Last week, the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (SIPO) and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced that each would be using the CPC system for at least some technical fields. In a release issued on Tuesday, the EPO and SIPO announced that the two offices had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance their cooperation in the area of patent classification. Under the terms of the Memorandum, SIPO will start classifying patent applications in some selected technical fields using the CPC beginning in January of 2014. In the interim, the EPO will provide dedicated training on the CPC system to SIPO. By January 2016, SIPO aims to classify patent applications in all technical areas using the CPC. EPO President Benoît Battistelli noted that "[w]ith the SIPO introducing the CPC as its internal classification scheme alongside the International Patent Classification, access to Chinese patent documentation will be dramatically improved." SIPO Commissioner Tian Lipu indicated that "[c]lassifying Chinese patent documents into the CPC will undoubtedly improve the search efficiency of these documents by the examiners of various patent offices worldwide, and help these documents better serve global users as well."
One day after the EPO and SIPO announced their Memorandum of Understanding on the CPC, the USPTO and KIPO announced the launch of a new pilot program in which KIPO will classify some of its patent documents using the CPC. Under the pilot program, KIPO will use the CPC to classify patent applications in technology areas for which filings have been especially active at KIPO. KIPO will work with the USPTO to identify these technology areas. Acting USPTO Director Teresa Stanek Rea stated that "[t]he USPTO looks forward to working with KIPO as it begins the process of classifying documents into the Cooperative Patent Classification system." KIPO Commissioner Young-min Kim noted that "KIPO expects that the pilot project will help improve the quality of examination at both offices by enabling examiners to retrieve Korean patent documents more effectively."
For additional information regarding this topic, please see:
• "USPTO News Briefs," January 8, 2013
• "USPTO Takes Next Step Towards Cooperative Patent Classification System," June 25, 2012
• "USPTO and EPO Launch Patent Classification Website," October 26, 2011
• "USPTO and EPO Agree to Principles of Joint Patent Classification System," February 14, 2011
• "USPTO and EPO to Develop Joint Patent Classification System," October 25, 2010