What is International Patent Classification (IPC)

International Patent Classification (IPC) is a hierarchical system of language for organising patents and their working model based on the area of technology.

What Does IPC Stand For?

International Patent Classification (IPC) is primarily used to classify and search patent documents easily while conducting a patent search and while examining the patent documents that are submitted to the patent office.

The patent documents are distributed in an orderly manner based on the selective distribution of information. This system is used by over 100 countries to uniformly examine the patent application file

This classification scheme contains about 70,000 entries, which are identified based on the classification symbols assigned to them. This classification is listed in a tree-like hierarchical structure.

Use of International Patent Classification (IPC)

The primary purpose of obtaining a uniform classification of patent documents is to come up with easy retrieval of patent documents by Intellectual Property Office.

The classification of the patent has the following purposes as well:

  1. It serves as a basis for selective dissemination of information to all the users.
  2. It is an instrument of an orderly arrangement of the patent document so that there is the facilitation of technological and legal information.
  3. Can be used in examination while investigating ‘state of the art’ in that given field of technology.
  4. It can be used to assess technological development in various sectors of the economy.

Use of the Patent Information

International Patent Classification is used for the purpose of classifying or retrieving patent documents and patent information.

Patent information is the technical information that is published in the Official Gazette. The chief purpose of the patent information is for the examination of the patent. The examination involves checking upon the technical field of the invention as well as identifying the scope of the Prior Art Search.

Additional Assistance While Using the Classification is Provided By:

  1. The catchword Index for the IPC as was established in English as well as many other languages.
  2. Revision concordance list that provides information about how subject matter has been revised and transferred in the classification.

Hierarchal Structure of Classification Symbols

The International Patent Classification System is hierarchical in nature. The classification divides the technological documents into various levels, i.e. section, class, subclass, group, and subgroup.

1. Section

Sections are classified as the highest level in the hierarchical structure of classification. The IPC is further divided into 8 sections:

  • Human Necessities
  • Performing Operations, Transporting
  • Chemistry, Metallurgy
  • Textiles, Paper
  • Fixed Constructions
  • Lighting, Heating, weapons, Mechanical Engineering, Blasting
  • Physics
  • Electricity

These sections have been designated with symbols of the Capital Alphabetical letters A through H.

Sections have been further divided into a subsection, which contains titles without symbols.

For instance: Human Necessities which is Section A, contains following sub-section: Agriculture, Food Stuffs, Tobacco, Health, Amusement, Personal or Domestic Articles.

2. Classes

The section is subdivided into classes; they are second in hierarchical level if the classification.

  •  Every class symbol consists of the section symbol followed by a 2-digit number.
  • The class title gives a suggestion about the content of the class.

3. Sub-Classes

Every class comprises one or more sub-classes, they are third in the hierarchical structure.

Sub-classes are further divided as

  • Sub-class Symbol
  • Sub-class Title
  • Sub-class Index
  • Guidance Heading

4. Groups

Sub-classes have been broken down into groups. Groups have also been further divided as

  • Main Group
  • Sub-Group

Related Articles

Search Patents