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Definition: International Patent Classification


The International Patent Classification (IPC) has as its primary purpose the establishment of an effective search tool for the retrieval of patent documents by patent offices and other users, in order to establish the novelty and evaluate the inventive step of patent applications. 

It has furthermore the important purposes of serving as: 

1) an instrument for the orderly arrangement of patent documents in order to facilitate access to the technological and legal information contained therein; 
2) a basis for selective dissemination of information to all users of patent information; 
3) a basis for investigating the state of the art in given fields of technology; 
4) a basis for the preparation of industrial property statistics which in turn permit the assessment of technological development in various areas
Foreword of the sixth edition of the IPC