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