The International Patent Classification has been established to organise and index technical subjects in order to make patent and utility model documents containing technological information easily retrievable at any time, e.g. by means of database searches, irrespective of language and wording. All technological fields have been organised in about 70,000 groups, distributed to eight sections (A to H) of the IPC.
The IPC has been subdivided into 8 sections according to subject matters. Each section is designated by one of the capital letters A through H:
The sections are the highest hierarchical level of the classification. They are subdivided into classes and subclasses, which are again broken down into main groups and subgroups.
For easier handling, these subdivisions are identified by classification symbols. A complete classification symbol comprises the components: Section, class, subclass and group.
Example: A23C 3/00 (main group) or A23C 3/02 (subgroup)
Each main group symbol consists of the subclass symbol followed by a one to three digit number, a slash and the numerals 00.
The hierarchy among subgroups is determined solely by the number of dots preceding their titles, and not by the number of digits.
|A23C 3/00||Preservation of milk or milk preparations|
|A23C 3/02||. by heating|
|A23C 3/023||.. in packages|
|A23C 3/027||... progressively transported through the apparatus|
Since the IPC has a hierarchical structure, readers should always include the titles of higher hierarchical place(s) when reading the title of a classification place.
Thus, subgroup A23C 3/027 should be read as follows:
"Preservation of milk or milk preparations by heating in packages and progressively transported through the apparatus".
A reference means that the subject matter in brackets is covered by another place (or several other places) referred to. In the below example, reference (hedge trimming means A01G 3/04) informs users that hedge trimming means are classified under A01G 3/04 and not under A01D 1/00.
|A01D 1/00||Hand-cutting implements (hedge trimming means A01G 3/04)|
Notes have been introduced for
a) defining specific terms
b) delimiting subject matter
|Re a)||Note relating to B61B|
|In this subclass, the following terms are used with the meanings indicated:|
|- "rope railways" covers railways using cables or chains as traction or suspension means;|
|- "ropes", "cables", or "chains" are equivalent unless specifically mentioned. |
|Re b)||Note relating to A23C|
|This subclass covers:|
|- the chemical aspects of making dairy products ...|
Some classes and subclasses have subclass indexes. These indexes provide an overview on the contents of the class or subclass.
Subclass index of class G10
Subclass index of subclass B01D
For the classification of patent and utility model documents DPMA uses IPC only. But examiners of the German Patent and Trademark Office use internal subdivisions of IPC groups for the storage of relevant documents in the database archive in order to further refine prior art searches if IPC is not sufficient. These subdivisions are called DEKLA groups.
DEKLA currently comprises nearly 40,000 subdivisions in addition to the IPC. DEKLA groups extend the dot hierarchy of the relevant IPC group and they are placed at least one hierarchical level lower than the respective IPC group. In DEPATISnet DEKLA the group symbols can be used for searching in the Search File IPC (ICP) field.
DEKLA titles are exclusively available in German. The DEKLA group symbols are identified by a capital letter/number combination, added, with a leading space, to the IPC classification symbol of the group.
|IPC||A43B 5/00||Schuhwerk für Sportzwecke...|
|plus a||A43B 5/00 GOL||. Golfschuhe|
About the IPC catchword index
The catchword index, available in English and German, is a useful starting point that will help you find relevant places in the IPC. You can search the catchword index by means of the IPC search (see 2.2). Beyond the keywords from the text of the IPC it contains catchwords and synonyms referring to the respective IPC place. Thus, the catchwords expand the search within the IPC search and enable easier retrieving of pertinent IPC places.
Display in the IPC index
In the IPC index the catchwords are always displayed below the associated IPC place, if the respective view option was selected. Catchwords are not assigned to every IPC place.
|F16H 1/30||..in which an orbital gear has an axis crossing the main axis of the gearing and has helical teeth or is a worm|
|Catchword(s): worm gearing, planetary gearing|
Tips for searching the IPC catchword index
Unlike keywords from the text of the IPC, catchwords are usually given in their basic form (infinitive, singular). As a rule, the plural is only used for chemical substances whose singular forms have a more specific meaning (e.g. "alcohols" = chemical group of alcohols, compared to "alcohol" = ethanol) or whose plural forms are more common ("silicons"). A more complete search result is obtained by the use of right truncation ? or preferably the appropriate number of # (see 2.2).
If a term was identified as a registered trademark during the compilation of the index, it will be marked by "(R)". It cannot be ruled out that trademark names were not identified.
Navigation within and search in the IPC index are divided into three areas, accessible via corresponding tabs/buttons at the top of the screen:
The IPC index screen is selected by default. (The IPC in a certain IPC edition/version and language is referred to as "IPC index" below.)
In order to go to a specific place of the IPC index, you can either enter the relevant IPC symbol in the "IPC symbol" entry field or you can click your way through the different levels of the IPC up to your desired IPC symbol. For example, if you click on the IPC symbol "A" in the sections list, the hyperlink will take you to the class index of section A, from there to the subclass index of one of the classes of section A and from there to the specific subclass. The subclass with its main groups, subgroups and DEKLA groups constitutes the lowest navigation level.
Please note: You can only browse to respective lower hierarchy levels if the "Hierarchy" view option is not checked.
Language and IPC edition/version
With this feature the search will only take the entered IPC intervals into account. It is possible to divide only by sections or to enter the full IPC symbol.
To avoid false data in the DEPATISnet search the bridge function will allow you to transfer your selected IPC symbol into a new DEPATISnet search. This inquiry will open in a separate window and the symbol will be put in the IPC entry field
The "View options" allow you to customize the display of the IPC index to suit your needs:
You can choose whether the display of the IPC index should include or exclude
Next to the button provided for hierarchical display you will sometimes find another small button with a white "D" on black background. If you click this button, you will get further information relating to this particular IPC place. This "definition" specifies which technical areas are comprised in this IPC place and which are not. Likewise, overlapping with and relations to other IPC places are mentioned. New definitions will be added progressively.
|B60R||Vehicles, vehicle fittings, or vehicle parts, not otherwise provided for (Fire prevention, containment, or extinguishing specially adapted for vehicles A62C 3/07)|
The "D" button takes you to the following definition:
Vehicles, vehicle fittings, or vehicle parts, not otherwise provided for
This subclass covers:
Any categories of vehicles per se that:
Chemical structural formulas
Furthermore you will find an "I" button, where applicable, leading to an illustration of the structure of chemical substances.
|C07D 209/28||.....1-(4-Chlorobenzoyl)-2-methyl- indolyl-3-acetic acid, substituted in position 5 by an oxygen or nitrogen atom; Esters thereof|
The "I" button takes you to the structural formula of the compound mentioned in the title:
The IPC search allows to find IPC places, based on terms (text of the IPC, catchwords) or on IPC symbols mentioned in references.
For an introduction to the IPC search this video gives you an overview using an example search.
How to perform a search
If you conduct a search for terms (full text search), the search for the submitted terms will cover the entire text of the IPC index (title, notes, definitions, references, etc.).
Entering several search terms separated by blanks results in an automatic intersection. Only results containing all search terms are displayed. In this case the number of results is reduced compared with searches with a single search term.
Example: textile? wash? returns e.g. the following result:
|D06B 1/00||Applying liquids, gases, or vapours on to textilematerials to effect treatment, e.g. washing, dyeing, bleaching, sizing, impregnating|
However, the combination of several terms by using Boolean operators such as AND, OR, NOT as well as the search for phrases i.e. several directly adjacent terms are not possible.
If the user cannot find a term composed of two or more words (compound) in the index, it is advisable to combine several search terms with left and/or right truncation. Example: A query for ?strab? ?meter? will return strabometer as well as strabismometer.
If you are not sure whether the search term is used in the IPC, you should additionally include catchwords (see 1.7) in your search request by using search and view options.
A reference search allows to find out in which IPC places the submitted IPC symbol is mentioned as reference. You can conduct a search for IPC symbols from the class level to the subgroup level of the hierarchy. An explanation on references is provided in section 1.3.
Enter the search terms or the IPC symbol that you wish to find in a reference, select the desired search options (see further below) and click on "Execute".
Result list and display of results in the IPC index
The search results will be displayed in a result list below the search form, at the bottom left of the screen. The part of the IPC index, to which the first result on the result list relates, will be displayed in the main window, according to the view options chosen (see further below). The navigation and browse options are the same as for the IPC index, described above.
Click on the IPC symbol of another result on the result list to go to the part of the IPC index relating to that result. The chosen result will be highlighted in the list (in red with an arrow). The corresponding part of the IPC index is displayed in the main window, where the result is marked in green.
Further navigation options are available in the result list:
If the search has returned more than 50 results (presently, the maximum number of results displayed), the list will be subdivided into pages. Navigation bars with page numbers and arrow buttons (e.g. 1, 2, 3, <, >) are available directly above and below the result list to navigate from one page of the result list to another and access the respective next, previous, last or first page of the result list.
Note: There is a maximum number of results returned by a search (presently 1,000 results).
You can choose whether the search should include or exclude the terms from
Use truncation if you wish to search for several search terms at once or for variant spellings/forms of a search term. Left, right or embedded truncation of the search term is admissible using ?, #, ! wildcards:
Specific cases relating to chemistry
Indications of a chemical substance will in most cases include their manufacturing process and associated appliances in the IPC.
Chemical elements or compounds are normally listed by their names and not by their chemical symbols (element symbol, chemical molecular formula).
If you search for organic compounds, position indications must be removed from the search term.
Example: If you search within catchwords for 1,4-Diazabicyclo (2.2.2) octane, search term Diazabicyclo? will return the correct IPC place.
The view options allow to customize the display of the IPC index (a more detailed description of the view options is provided in the section "IPC index").
You can choose whether the display should include or exclude
The classification system is revised at regular intervals in order to improve the IPC and to adapt it to the ongoing technological development. A new IPC edition/version is established at the outcome of each IPC revision. However, a revision will not affect all IPC areas. The "IPC concordance" allows to find out where changes occurred, i.e. which IPC places were newly established, deleted or transferred, when the next IPC edition/version came into effect.
Overview IPC concordance
After selecting the more recent of two subsequent IPC editions/versions in the "New IPC edition/version" drop-down box and clicking on the "Execute" button, you will obtain the table "IPC concordance - summary". This table lists, in the order of the sections, the subclasses whose contents were modified when the selected IPC edition/version was introduced. If you select the "old-to-new" direction, you will find out which former subclasses have changed in scope und which IPC places have been classified differently under the new version. If you click on "new-to-old" you will see the areas of the selected later edition/version that are either new or have been modified in comparison to the previous edition/version. This option might be of interest to find out where patent documents currently classified under a specific IPC symbol were formerly classified.
Result list (concordances) and display of results in the IPC index
If you click on one of the subclass symbols in the table "IPC concordance - summary", a concordance result list will be displayed at the bottom left. You can also access this result list by directly entering the subclass symbol in the "IPC class or subclass" field and simultaneously selecting the corresponding IPC edition/version. The result list will show the subgroups or subgroup areas affected by the chosen IPC revision and list old vs. new IPC symbols in case of subdivisions or transfers of IPC places. A symbol next to the result indicates whether the subgroup or subgroup area has been deleted or modified, or whether it is new. The result list may be customized by means of the "Compression of result" drop-down box. If you select "no compression", you will get a list broken down by individual subgroups. If you choose a compressed display, the relevant subgroups will be pooled.
If you click on a result in the concordance result list, the corresponding part of the IPC index will be displayed in the main window. The edition/version of the IPC index displayed depends on whether you haven chosen a result in the column "old" or "new". The view options and languages correspond to those mentioned in relation to the IPC index application. The active result will be highlighted in the result list (in red with an arrow).
For printing the currently displayed part of the IPC index, click on the "Print" button in the title area of the screen. You can also use the printing functionality of your browser. In that case, please note that the application consists of three frames: the title area, the view and search options, and the display of the IPC index. The desired frame must be activated by a mouse click before initiating the print command.
This function allows the user to convert the currently displayed part of the IPC index into a PDF file. This file will then open in a separate window. The customized view option will be adopted in the PDF file and the IPC places will be displayed in two columns.
Based on IPC symbols you can conduct a patent search for example with the help of the patent research system DEPATISnet at http://depatisnet.dpma.de. You find the field descriptions of the IPC fields under "searchable fields" of the corresponding helpfile.
If you are interested in an enhanced introduction to the IPC, please refer to the IPC Guide which provides detailed explanations on the structure, the symbols, the rules and the application of the classification system. The IPC Guide in English, published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), is available on the Internet at http://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/classifications/ipc/en/guide/guide_ipc.pdf.
You can obtain the German language guide ("Handbuch zur IPC") to the IPC from http://www.dpma.de/docs/service/klassifikationen/ipc/handbuch_ipc2012.pdf.
To download the current version of the IPC in German language in XML go to https://datenabgabe.dpma.de/klassifikationen/de/klassifikationen.html.
Further information on the IPC (in English and French) is provided by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
For enquiries or communications relating to the IPC and the catchword index please contact
Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt
Referat 2.2.1 Klassifikationssysteme
DE - 80297 München
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