07 January 2013
This is my first blog post in 2013, so let me start by wishing you all the very best for the new year. 2012 ended with the historic decisions of the EU on the unitary patent package. For the EPO, 2013 will be marked in particular by the 40th anniversary of the signing of the European Patent Convention, the treaty which originally created our organisation. This momentous event, which changed the face of the patent system, will be celebrated in a variety of ways during the coming year.
A further occasion for celebration in 2013 has already been provided by the introduction, on 1 January, of the new US-European patent classification system known as the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC).
We published the CPC classification scheme, with its 250 000 entries, in October last year on a dedicated website, so that the public could familiarise itself with the new system. The CPC is the result of a joint effort by the EPO and the USPTO, working together in an entirely novel way and sharing our respective funds of knowledge and experience. The teams from our two Offices cooperated magnificently during the two-year preparation phase to deliver a top-quality result exactly on schedule. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank again everyone involved in the project, on both sides of the Atlantic.
The CPC will be a crucial tool for comprehensive and accurate prior art searching. Patent offices all over the world have already shown great interest in adopting the system. The EPO is prepared to facilitate this, and some dedicated co-operation programmes have already been initiated. A key aspect is that the first levels of the CPC correspond to the International Patent Classification administered by WIPO. IPC compatibility ensures that the new classification is integrated into the international environment, which, for us, was a paramount consideration.
The CPC is now up and running. It is a technical project that has a wider strategic significance – to me it is a perfect example of how international cooperation activities between patent offices can serve to harmonise and simplify the patent system, and to make life easier for our users.