The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) have agreed to work toward the formation of a joint patent classification system. The jointly developed classification system will be more detailed than the IPC to improve patent searching.
More details about this milestone achievement in global standardisation are available at this press release*; including this joint statement by 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: “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.”
*Press release available at USPTO website at http://www.uspto.gov/news/pr/2010/10_51.jsp