Getting into Cooperative Patent Classification


The Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) has been jointly developed by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark office (USPTO). Based upon the previous European classification system, is an extension of the IPC and is jointly managed by the EPO and the US Patent and Trademark Office. It is divided into nine sections, A-H and Y, which in turn are sub-divided into classes, sub-classes, groups and sub-groups. There are approximately 2,50,000 classification entries.

The Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) was initiated as a joint partnership between the USPTO and the EPO where the Offices have agreed to harmonize their existing classification systems (ECLA and USPC, respectively) and migrate towards a common classification scheme. This was a strategic decision by both offices and is seen as an important step towards advancing harmonization efforts currently being undertaken through the IP5’s Working Group 1 on Classification.

The migration to CPC was developed based in large part on the existing European Classification System (ECLA) modified to ensure compliance with the International Patent Classification system (IPC) standards administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

How was CPC initiated?

On 25 October 2010, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, Mr David Kappos, and the President of the EPO, Mr Benoît Battistelli, agreed on the following joint statement:

"In view of the significant benefit to stakeholders of developing a transparent and harmonized approach to a global classification system for patent documents; in order to make the search process more effective; and in the belief that cooperation between their two offices will facilitate progress in undertaking classification harmonization projects under the IP5 Common Hybrid Classification initiative, the USPTO and the EPO have agreed together to work toward the formation of a partnership to explore the development of a joint classification system based on the European Classification system (ECLA) that will incorporate the best classification practices of the two offices. This system would be aligned with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) classification standards and the International Patent Classification (IPC) structure. Accordingly, they have initiated discussions on governance and operational aspects of such a partnership.

The IP5 partner offices will be continually apprised of progress at appropriate IP5 forums. Stakeholders will receive regular updates on the substance and progress of classification partnership discussions between the two offices."

Following this announcement, the EPO and the USPTO started to work together to develop a new classification system which is now known as the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC). A joint USPTO/EPO implementation group, known as the CPC IG, has been set up to oversee its creation and implementation.

Replacing the ECLA system, both the EPO and USPTO is using the CPC model being one of the official patent classification schemes for both the patent office. Several member states such as the patent office of UK, Spain, Sweden are using CPC for their purpose. Moreover, other major states are also joining the CPC structure. In 2013, the Chinese State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) agreed that for certain technical fields, SIPO will classify newly published patent applications. During that period, the Korean Intellectual Property Office also announced that the classification of patent document will be done on the basis of CPC system. On similar lines, the Russian Intellectual Property office also structures the patent classification using the CPC model. Therefore, it can be well apprehended that there are multiple patent offices that are working in consonance with the CPC model.

(Relevant information accessed from-,

Author: Saransh Chaturvedi an associate at Global Patent Filing,  in case of any queries please contact/write back us at


Get In Touch

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
1 + 5 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.