Understanding Types of Classifications in Patent Search

A patent classification is a system for examiners of patent offices or other people to code documents, such as published patent applications, according to the technical features of their content. Patent classification systems were originally developed for sorting paper documents, but are nowadays used for searching patent databases as well. A patent classification is fixed under an agreement among people. Below are some examples of Patent classification based on the jurisdiction.  Classification in patent search

Understanding types of classifications in patent search could make the process of searching easier and less cumbersome as most of the documents in patent databases are segregated on the basis of the classification system.

Patent classification system based on Jurisdiction

International Patent Classification (IPC) – The International Patent Classification (IPC) is agreed internationally.

United States Patent Classification (USPC) – The United States Patent Classification (USPC) is fixed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Derwent Classification System – The Derwent Classification System is fixed by an enterprise.

Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) – A joint patent classification system launched by United States Patent Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO)

German Patent classification (DPK) – The German Patent Classification (DPK) was fixed by the German Patent Office (Deutsches Patentamt).

Patent Classification on the basis of document type

Original Classifications (OR) – Every U.S. patent must have one—and only one—principal mandatory classification known as an OR classification. The OR classification must be in a primary subclass. The class of the OR classification is the same as the class of the controlling claim in the patent, or the most superior class of the controlling claim if it has more than one classification. The subclass of the OR classification is determined by the classification of whichever claim is classified deepest in the highest subclass array in the class. Classification in patent search

Cross Reference Classifications (XR) – Any document may be classified in the USPC in more than one subclass, but no document may be classified in the same subclass more than once. If a U.S. patent has more than one classification, all classifications other than the OR classification are referred to as cross-reference (XR) classifications. An XR classification of a U.S. patent may be in any subclass except a foreign (FOR) subclass. XR classifications based on the claimed or unclaimed invention information disclosed in the patent are mandatory classifications.

Primary Classifications (PR) – U.S. PGPub documents classified in the USPC are assigned one, and only one, principal mandatory classification, known as the Primary Classification (PR). The PR classification of a U.S. PGPub document must be in a primary subclass. The PR classification is indicative of the invention as a whole or the main inventive concept using the claims as a guide. The experience and knowledge of the state of the art by those classifying the documents can be a factor in how these documents are classified. Classification in patent search

Secondary Classifications (SR) – Classifications in addition to the PR on a U.S. PGPub document are known as Secondary Classifications (SR). All invention information subject matter in a U. S. PGPub document must receive a mandatory classification. Any invention information disclosed in a U.S. PGPub separately classifiable apart from the PR is assigned a mandatory SR classification. Other noninvention information thought to have particularly good search value may be assigned a discretionary SR classification by the person classifying the documents.

Patent Classification on the basis of Subject Matter

Design classes- Design patents, issued under Title 35 of the United States Code in Section 171 (35 U.S.C. 171), protect ornamental designs. The principal classification, i.e., OR classification, for a design patent is placed in one of the design classes. Design patents can easily be recognized by their patent number, which usually begins with the letter “D.” The USPC currently has 33 design classes.

Plant class- Plant patents, issued under 35 U.S.C. 161, protect new and distinct varieties of asexually reproducible plants. The USPC has one plant class, designated PLT, in which all plant patents are classified. Plant patents are the only US patents published with full color drawings.

Utility classes- Utility patents, issued under 35 U.S.C. 101, protect any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. Utility classes have a class number from 1 to 999. The USPC currently has more than 400 utility classes. Some utility classes provide exclusively for a single statutory category. Examples of such categories include articles of manufacture, processes, and machines to make articles of manufacture, in addition to composition and compound classes. Classification in patent search

All we can say is that understanding types of classifications in patent search could be a prudent step as with this we can conduct a thorough and full patent search with minimum amount of inputs.

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