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Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership

Wednesday Jun 13, 2012

Top Reasons Why USPTO Is Moving to CPC

Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos

Today I'd like to return to our work on patent classification. With the planning and development phases of the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) project well underway, this is a good opportunity to reemphasize the importance of CPC and highlight why the USPTO is cooperatively pursuing this initiative with the European Patent Office (EPO). Last year we began working with the EPO on the requirements for a bilateral classification system that would be jointly managed by both offices. We provided an overview of our efforts to the examining corps in February of this year. Throughout the transition to CPC, we will continue to work collaboratively with the EPO and the Patent Office Professional Association (POPA) on implementation details. I am strongly committed to the benefits CPC will bring. CPC will greatly benefit the USPTO and its employees, as well as the entire U.S. and indeed global innovation communities. To highlight the benefits, here are the top reasons why we are moving to CPC:

1. CPC Is Up-to-Date.
The U.S. Patent Classification System (USPC) has not been updated and maintained over time. Thanks to EPO's efforts, CPC will start out current. And the USPTO and EPO will jointly maintain CPC, so it will remain current and affordably so, with revisions made on a regular basis to provide manageable breakdowns.

2. CPC Is Dynamic.
CPC will allow for more frequent updating that will improve our ability to adapt to and incorporate filing trends and emerging technologies quickly into the scheme through more frequent revisions.

3. CPC Is Compatible.
USPC is not compatible with any other classification system used in the world today. The other four major intellectual property offices (EPO, KIPO, JPO, SIPO), all utilize a classification system based on the International Patent Classification (IPC) standard. Moving to CPC will provide the USPTO with a classification system that is compatible with the IPC.

4. One Search, One Source.
U.S. patent examiners will be able to select one set of CPC classification codes pertinent to a technology, and then have before them the available U.S., European, and other foreign art.

5. CPC Has More Breakdowns.
The CPC scheme (or classification schedule, as it is known at the USPTO) will initially have approximately 200,000 breakdowns as compared to 150,000 breakdowns in USPC. This will provide, in many art areas, a more targeted search that will yield more focused results.

6. CPC Will Have U.S. Documents from Day One.
Since CPC is initially based on European Classification (ECLA), and since the EPO has already classified U.S. documents from 1920 to date in the ECLA, we can leverage the work already done by EPO and use it as a starting point for CPC.

7. CPC Promotes Work Sharing.
After a transition period, the USPTO will only have to classify U.S. documents filed first in the U.S. Likewise, EPO will only have to classify EPO and member states’ documents filed first in Europe. By jointly sharing the work to classify new documents, CPC will save resources for both USPTO and EPO.

8. CPC Is Collaborative.
Collaboration tools will be developed for USPTO and EPO examiners to share and exchange classification and search ideas.

9. CPC Is For All Users.
Use of the CPC classification system will provide both examiners and patent system users worldwide the ability to conduct patent document searches by accessing the same document collections.

10. CPC Facilitates Harmonization.
CPC will foster patent harmonization efforts by enhancing our ability to leverage and use work of other intellectual property offices.

11. CPC Is Accommodating.
CPC is targeted to be launched in both the EPO and the USPTO on January 1, 2013. At the USPTO, there will be a two-year period when both USPC and CPC will be running in parallel to allow USPTO examiners sufficient opportunity to learn and transition to the CPC scheme.

12. CPC Is Global.
CPC will be used by the USPTO and more than 45 patent offices in their internal search systems. This user community totals more than 20,000 patent examiners who will share the same classification scheme, i.e., the CPC. This diverse community will help establish the CPC as an international standard.

I hope you will share in my enthusiasm for this important undertaking. Please check the co-owned and jointly maintained CPC website periodically for further updates.

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