JOINT CLASSIFICATION PROJECT ANNOUNCED
Read/download the Press Release here
Prepared by Patrick M. Buechner
In Press Release 10-51, dated October 25, 2010 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced plans to develop a joint patent classification system with the European Patent Office (EPO).
The unified classification system will have its basis in the current International Patent Classification (IPC) system.
It appears that the unified classification system will replace the existing USPTO classification system, which does not track the IPC, unlike most other patent classification systems, since the USPTO classification system was developed prior to the IPC.
Current plans are for the newly unified classification system to have a more comprehensive breakdown than the IPC in order to provide a more rigorous searching tool.
If the unified classification system is adopted by both the USPTO and the EPO, it is likely that searches conducted by examiners in the respective patent offices will be given more deference by examiners in the other non-searching office in order to reduce replication of searches. Such deference will aid the USPTO with its goal to reduce the current backlog of pending patent applications, since an examiner in the USPTO may be able to rely upon the search conducted by an examiner in the EPO.
There does not currently appear to be a specific timeline, nor specific milestone dates, announced for the joint classification project.
This project appears to be the first step towards allowing the IP5 patent offices (USPTO, EPO, Japanese Patent Office, Korean Intellectual Property Office, and State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China) to implement a Common Hybrid Classification system (http://www.fiveipoffices.org/projects/commonhyb.html ).