CPC- Cooperative Patent Classification

Table of Contents

Patent classification is a system for organizing all patent documents and other technical documents into specific technology groupings based on common subject matter. 

CPC is an extension of the IPC and is jointly managed by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). CPC additionally includes the section, “Y”, related to general tagging of new technological developments. The main sections are: 

  • A: Human Necessities 
  • B: Performing Operations; Transporting 
  • C: Chemistry; Metallurgy 
  • D: Textiles; Paper 
  • E: Fixed Constructions 
  • F: Mechanical Engineering; Lighting; Heating; Weapons; Blasting Engines or Pumps 
  • G: Physics 
  • H: Electricity 
  • Y: General Tagging of New Technological Developments 

The EPO and USPTO both had highly developed patent classification systems, the European CLAssification (ECLA) and the United States Patent Classification (USPC) respectively. CPC is the outcome of an ambitious harmonization effort to bring the best practices from each Office together.  

CPC codes categorize patents by general subjects. The CPC codes are divided into sections A through Y, which are sub-divided into classes, subclasses, groups, and subgroups. For more details see: CPC Classification Search, CPC Bulk data 
The codes are hierarchical; therefore, the longer the code, the more specific the concept.  

Every patent document, regardless of whether it is an application or a granted patent, is given a classification symbol by the patent examiner indicating its allocation to a specific area of technology. 

The classifications are mainly used when performing patent searches and looking for prior art. It is therefore highly recommended to make use of these classifications as it will help minimize the amount of data to analyze. Instead of searching within over 100 million patents the search can be narrowed down to your area of interest.  

Not all patent offices use CPC. For example the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) and the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) use IPC and their own classification systems like  DEKLA und FI Codes und F-terms

Some of the patent offices that use CPC are:  

IamIP Platform:  Edit

In the IamIP platform, all IPC and CPC codes are summarized in the search view. Analyzing classifications of known patents is a good way to perform searches in the technical area of interest: 

The different sections and classes of a CPC code can be easily visualized by clicking on them: 

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