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Law & practice

Official Journal June 2021

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Citation: OJ EPO 2021, A52
Online publication date: 30.6.2021

Notice from the European Patent Office dated 22 June 2021 concerning the introduction of Cooperative Patent Classification symbols in the European Publication Server,
European Patent Register and European Patent Bulletin

The Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC), which entered into force on 1 January 2013, is an extension of the International Patent Classification (IPC) system. Jointly managed by the European Patent Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, it is the most refined classification system for patent documents in the world. The CPC is recognised as a global classification system and is used by many national patent offices worldwide.

Patent information is key to fostering technological progress. With more patent offices using the CPC, CPC documentation coverage is improving significantly, and it has become a powerful tool for searching for patent documents. Until now, CPC symbols assigned to European patent applications have been included in the EPO's DOCDB XML exchange product and in Espacenet. They have not been included in the PDF documents of European patent applications (EP A publications) and European patents (EP B publications). Nor have they been made available in the European Patent Register or the European Patent Bulletin.

To facilitate access to comprehensive patent information and to make the patent search process easier and more efficient, the EPO is making CPC symbols available in all its publications, as explained below.

European Publication Server

CPC symbols will be made available in the XML data on the European Publication Server in September 2021. Their inclusion in the PDF documents of A and B publications is due to start in the second half of 2021.

As CPC symbols are primarily for classifying patent documents and finding relevant prior art, they will not appear in the communication on the intention to grant (Rule 71(3) EPC).

CPC symbols in the PDF documents of European patent applications and patents and in the XML data on the European Publication Server will be those assigned by the EPO. CPC symbols given by other offices will be made available in other EPO services, such as DOCDB XML, Espacenet and the European Patent Register (see below).

CPC symbols will be published on the title page of the A and B publications, below the IPC symbols. To preserve the readability of the title page, the number of CPC symbols published on it will be limited. Where necessary, the list will be continued on an additional title page. Any Combination Sets of CPC symbols (C-Sets) will also be published on the additional title page. C-Sets will be available in the XML data on the European Publication Server, in Espacenet and in the European Patent Register.

CPC symbols will be published under Internationally Agreed Numbers for the Identification of Data (INID) Code 52 ("Domestic or national classification") in the PDF documents of European patent applications and specifications.

European Patent Register

In the European Patent Register, on the About this file page, CPC symbols will be displayed in the Classification section. The International subsection will be renamed IPC.

A new CPC subsection will be created for CPC symbols. All CPC symbols assigned by the EPO and other CPC offices will be displayed. Another new subsection,
C-Set, will be created to display Combination Sets.

For both the CPC and C-Set subsections, if more than one line is needed, the second line will be displayed only partly for the sake of readability. Selecting a plus sign on the right-hand side of the line will display the rest of the data.

The publication of CPC symbols in the European Patent Register is due to start in July 2021.

European Patent Bulletin

Sections I.1(1), I.1(2), II.1(1), II.1(2) and II.1(3) of the European Patent Bulletin will contain all the CPC symbols assigned by the EPO. They will be published under INID Code 52, below INID Code 51 ("International Patent Classification"). C-Sets will not be published in the European Patent Bulletin.

The publication of CPC symbols in the European Patent Bulletin is due to start in September 2021.