Robert Pocklington
Latin America IPR SME Helpdesk

The intense cooperation and partnership between the National Institute of Industrial Property of Argentina (INPI) and the European Patent Office (EPO) over the last two years, has resulted on the introduction by INPI of the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC). Planned to be implemented by January 2019, this new incorporation implies that Argentina will be the third Latin American country applying this system into their patent registration process after Brazil (2014) and Mexico (2015). Besides, while the Industrial Property Office of Chile (INAPI) is in the process of writing a project proposal for CPC, its examiners are already taking into consideration this classification when performing PCT´s International Search Reports. These steps allow us to think that Chile would become the fourth Latin American country to take advantage of the CPC system.

The intense cooperation and partnership between the National Institute of Industrial Property of Argentina (INPI) and the European Patent Office (EPO) over the last two years, has resulted on the introduction by INPI of the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC). Planned to be implemented by January 2019, this new incorporation implies that Argentina will be the third Latin American country applying this system into their patent registration process after Brazil (2014) and Mexico (2015). Besides, while the Industrial Property Office of Chile (INAPI) is in the process of writing a project proposal for CPC, its examiners are already taking into consideration this classification when performing PCT´s International Search Reports. These steps allow us to think that Chile would become the fourth Latin American country to take advantage of the CPC system.

What is a Patent classification system? How can it be useful for me?

During the patent registration process, patent applications are identified and classified by examiners according to its technical content. International classification systems seek to provide IP users and examiners with a common way to identify and classify patent documents across different Industrial Property Offices.

If you are considering the protection of an invention before an Industrial Property Office, you are advised to perform a prior comprehensive patent search as to obtain enough information on what to develop and protect in the drafting process of your patent application. Having a patent search tool which incorporates a precise classification system, will allow you to obtain the highest quality and most extensive patent data, and therefore, to maximise your efforts.

More specifically, while performing the above-mentioned technical search, a proper patent classification system will support you by:

  • reducing considerably the number of search results
  • delivering an accurate search of patents and patent applications in a certain technical field
  • giving a number of results from which, the language of the patents will not limit the results

The Cooperative Patent Classification System and its benefits

The CPC has been jointly developed by combining the best features of the European and the United States Patent Offices (EPO and USPTO respectively) classification systems, and has been applied by those institutions since 2013. Currently, 26 regional and national IP Offices have officially adopted this scheme, including those from Mexico, Brazil, China or South Korea.

This new classification scheme is an extension -and coexist in practice- with the International Patent Classification (IPC) created by WIPO. Nonetheless, the former has among its main advantages an additional section for tagging emerging cross-sectional technologies and is more detailed. The accuracy that they can achieve is due to their technical fields: while the CPC counts with approximately 250,000 classification entries, the IPC contains around 70,000 groups.

The expansion of this evolving system to countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina or Chile, ease and extend the access of EU SMEs to patent documents of those countries, since their IP offices will classify following the same criteria we apply in Europe. Likewise, the CPC scheme will enhance patent examination efficiency by assisting the examiners who will be better equipped to address the growing diversity of inventions.

Searching for patents using the CPC System

Different types of inventions are classified in different categories, according to their technical content. Patent content is divided into 9 main sections, which lead to further subdivisions. An example of this hierarchy would be:

Section: A: Human necessities

– Class: A41 – Wearing apparel

  • Subclass: A41B – Shirts, underwear, baby linen, handkerchiefs
    • Group: A4B 15/00 – Handkerchiefs
      • Subgroup: A4B 15/02 – Simulations of breast pocket handkerchiefs; Their attachment

If you are trying to make a simple search for patents from a specific technical field using the CPC scheme, aside from the relevant National IP Office database, you can carry out searches on the Espacenet, the free-to-use search engine of the EPO that is available on its website (here). In addition, before performing your own search, we highly recommend you to watch the practical tutorials about Espacenet and how to use its classification system , or if you are motivated enough, even join one of the trainings offered by this European office.

This European search tool contains data on more than 100 million patent documents from around the world. With the data obtained from it, you could be informed, for instance, about the state of the art in a particular technology field, or whether a patent has been granted and remains in force.

Wrapping it up: give this classification system a try!

Every day, more and more regional and national databases are using this constantly updated scheme that, by unifying the classification criteria existing over the different patent offices, ease the work of their users and examiners to a great extent. In this sense, be aware that according to the latest statistics of EPO and USPTO, between February 2017 and January 2018, INPI Brazil had already classified with the CPC almost 64 % of its patent documents; while in Chile it was 73.5% (even though they are not part yet), and in Mexico the numbers were even higher, about 91%.

Therefore, if you are an EU SME considering extending your patent rights to the Latin America region, keep up to the countries of this region that are implementing this scheme and dare to try a technical search.

For more information on patent search, please have a look to our factsheet on how to conduct a patent search: the basics, and do not hesitate to contact our Helpline, it is free, fast and confidential service offered in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

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