IPC

International Patent Classification (IPC)

Almost all patent applications are classified in this internationally recognised classification system. It is maintained by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and is used in more than 100 countries worldwide.

The IPC has a hierarchical structure and is subdivided into sections, classes, subclasses, groups and subgroups. One of the most precise classification systems available, the IPC currently divides technology into around 70 000 areas.

Areas of technology

In the IPC, technology is divided into eight main sections:

  • 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

IPC divisions

The IPC has a systematic and hierarchical structure. Classification becomes more detailed at every further level or subdivision, as you can see in this example:

Level

Symbol

Description

Section

A

Human necessities

Class

A21

Baking; equipment for making or processing doughs; doughs for baking

Subclass

A21C

Machines or equipment for making or processing doughs; handling baked articles made from dough

Group

A21C1

Mixing or kneading machines for the preparation of dough

Subgroup

A21C1/06

with horizontally-mounted mixing or kneading tools; Worm mixers