Patent Search Updates from the EPO: New Features on Espacenet and the Full Scheme of the CPC

[tweetmeme source=”Intellogist” only_single=false] Where do you get your EPO news? There are plenty of choices to pick from: you can subscribe to an RSS feed for news or website updates, receive a bimonthly e-mail newsletter, or simply check the EPO website directly for news on important patent search and classification products created by the EPO, such as the free online patent search system Espacenet and the upcoming Cooperative Patent Classification system (CPC).  The EPO  recently announced updates to both of these products, so I’ll give you a brief run-down of the newest features on Espacenet and exciting news about the release of the CPC scheme and some definitions prior to the full January 1, 2013 rollout. Prior art searchers use Espacenet on a regular basis as a free source of global patent data, and the CPC will soon replace ECLA and the USPC as the main global patent classification system.

Stay up-to-date on the latest EPO news about these crucial patent search and classification products, and continue reading for a summary of recent Espacenet updates and a sneak peak at the CPC!

New Espacenet Features

Issue 19/2012 of the EPO Newsletter gave a summary of recent changes to the Espacenet search platform:

  • Group related search fields – The Advanced search form appears to now group similar fields together, such as a section for “Title” and “Title or abstract” fields, number fields, date ranges, persons/organizations, and classification codes.

Related fields are grouped in the same sections under the Advanced search form.

  • Use expandable search fields – Users can drag the dotted icons in the bottom right corner of each search form to expand the size of the form.

Users can manually expand search forms on Espacenet.

  • Browser-supported spell checker – Incorrectly spelled words in a search form are automatically underlined in red, and users can right click on the word to view correct spelling options.

Right-click on a misspelled word to view alternative spellings.

  • Improved on-screen contrast – The background of the Espacenet interface seems to now be displayed in white instead of gray.
  • Keyboard shortcuts – The user can now press CTRL-ENTER to expand the field you are in.

Release of the CPC Scheme and Definitions

The EPO website issued a press release on October 1, 2012 that stated:

The EPO and USPTO have worked jointly to develop CPC, and the results are now being made available through a “CPC launch package” which includes the complete CPC scheme, any finalised CPC definitions and an ECLA-to-CPC-to-IPC concordance.

The CPC scheme is based on the latest version of the International Patent Classification (IPC) system, with sections A through H plus an additional section Y which includes new technological developments and cross-sectional technologies. There are approximately 250 000 classification symbols available in the CPC. The CPC definitions will be available for every CPC subclass and will contain a description of the technical subject-matter covered in the subclass. Eventually, each CPC subclass will have a corresponding CPC definition that will be continuously maintained. The CPC-to-IPC concordance will help users find the relevant IPC area on which the CPC is based.

Users can access the complete CPC scheme, 59 final CPC definitions, and an ECLA to CPC to IPC concordance table  through the CPC website, where the products are available in .pdf, .xml and .txt formats. The website states that “only textual changes are expected to be made to this launch version of the CPC scheme before the full CPC implementation on 01 January 2013,” and “remaining CPC Definitions will be released in batches at the beginning of each month as soon as they are finalized.”  A table of the CPC scheme (and links to some CPC definitions) is also accessible on the website.

View the full CPC scheme and links to some definitions on the CPC website.


The updates to Espacenet are relatively minor, but they do create a faster search experience thanks to easier readability, expandable forms, and a spell check feature.  The release of the CPC scheme, concordances, and definitions provides an exciting sneak peak for patent searchers who are currently preparing for the switch from ECLA and USPC to the new CPC classification system.  Searchers will need to be familiar with the new classification system when conducting patent searches after the 2013 rollout, and these prelaunch releases will prove to be useful training materials.  Prior art searchers should especially focus on reviewing the ECLA to CPC to IPC concordance table, in order to learn the small but important differences between these systems.

What do you think of the new Espacenet features?  Have you looked at the new CPC scheme and definitions?  Tell us your opinions about these EPO updates in the comments!

Patent Searches from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.


2 Responses

  1. Do we have any idea when CPC classification will start showing up on documents?

    • From the timeline in the first CPC Newsletter (PDF), it looks like the CPC goes into force on Jan.1, 2013 when “ECLA will officially cease to exist and the EPO will classify its documentation using the CPC” and “newly filed US applications (published as US ‘A’ documents) will be classified in USPC and CPC.”

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