The International Patent Classification IPC

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Structure of the IPC

The IPC is a hierarchical system in which all technical knowledge for the field of inventions is divided into sections, classes, subclasses, main groups and subgroups, in descending order of hierarchy.

At the highest hierarchical level of the classification there are eight sections. Each section is designated by a capital letter between A and H. The title of each section provides a very general guideline as to the contents of each section:

A Human necessities
B Performing Operations; Transporting
C Chemistry; Metallurgy
D Textiles; Paper
E Fixed Constructions
F Mechanical Engineering; Lighting; Heating; Weapons; Blasting
G Physics
H Electricity

At the second hierarchical level, each section is divided into classes, with each class comprising one or several subclasses at the third hierarchical level.
Each subclass is again subdivided into groups. Groups are either main groups (on the fourth hierarchical classification level) or subgroups (lower levels in the hierarchy which depend on the corresponding main group of the classification).
A complete classification symbol consists of a combination of the symbols for section, class, subclass and main group or subgroup respectively, e.g.: A 01 B 33/00


Last updated: 20 October 2020