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International Patent Classification (IPC)

The technical content of patent documents is classified in accordance with the International Patent Classification (IPC).

The publishing office assigns an IPC symbol valid at the time of publication of the patent application.

The complete IPC can be found on the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO ).


The classification symbol is made up of a letter denoting the IPC section (e.g. A), followed by a number (two digits) denoting the IPC class (e.g. A63), still followed by a letter denoting the IPC subclass (e.g. A63B). A number (variable, 1-3 digits) denotes the IPC main group (e.g. A63B49), a forward slash "/", and a number (variable, 1-3 digits) denotes the IPC subgroup (e.g. A63B49/02).


Note: IPC symbols printed with a blank after the fourth letter or digit must be entered in the search field in espacenet without any blanks.


You should not use wildcards as the data is autoposted, meaning that each symbol is indexed at different levels. For example: B (section level), B65 (class level), B65D (subclass level), B65D81 (group level), B65D81/32 (full classification).


Put differently, A63B49 will search for all symbols under main group A63B49/00 (including the main group itself).


You can enter up to four symbols, the default operator being AND.


Following the introduction of IPC8, you can now refine your search using search modifiers within the IPC search field.


  • c: selects IPC core level
  • a: selects IPC advanced level
  • ci: selects IPC core level, invention information
  • cn: selects IPC core level, additional information
  • ai: selects IPC advanced level, invention information
  • an: selects IPC advanced level, additional information

Examples : ci:G11B5/62, an:G11B5/84


The IPC8 symbols are displayed according to the following priorities:


  • Advanced level before core level
  • Invention information before additional information
  • IPC8 symbols are displayed before IPC symbols from earlier versions (1-7)
  • Old IPC symbols (versions 1-7) are displayed in normal font, and prefixed with the label "(IPC1-7)"

The IPC8 symbols in the result list (and in the documents) are displayed as follows:


  • Advanced IPC symbols: italic
  • Core IPC symbols: non-italic
  • Invention related symbols: bold
  • Additional (not invention related) symbols: non-bold

You can continue to search IPC as before, without using search modifiers. You can also still search ECLA independently of the IPC.