The UK IPO classifies UK patent applications by their technical content. There are several patent classification schemes that can be used and currently they apply the International Patent Classification (IPC) to all our applications. He UK IPO used to apply their own UK Patent Classification (UKC) but following a consultation they stopped using them from1 July 2007.
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) maintains the International Patent Classification (IPC). The IPC is represented as a collection of alphanumeric codes. Each code refers to different types of technical information. Each patent document that is published by the UK IPO will have at least one IPC code applied to it. The European Patent Office (EPO) and other patent offices worldwide also use it to classify their own patent documents.
Another classification scheme is ECLA which is maintained by the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO apply ECLA to their applications and also to documents from other patent offices which they include in their databases.
Other patent granting authorities also maintain their own classification schemes. These include the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO).