Patent classification helps conduct searches
The patent classification is your key to technical information, especially when "words are not enough". It is an internationally agreed way of defining which field of technology a specific invention belongs to.
Each patent document bears on its front page the marking Int.Cl.7. The figure in it may vary, but in all cases it tells you that the invention has been classified according to the International Patent Classification.
The importance of a patent classification has not diminished in the era of electronic access even though classification was first to exist. In the days of manual searching, classification was the only means of organizing documents in a way that enabled search of earlier, similar inventions from the vast collections of patent documents. In electronic search, a simple word search may retrieve a great number of hits. The search can be narrowed with the help of a suitable patent classification.
Our Internet databases facilitate the use of patent classification in searches.
The International Patent Classification is the most widely used classification. It has earlier been revised every five years, since 2011 every year. The first version was taken into use in 1970 and the latest in 2011. IPC can be used in searches in espacenet (search field IPC Classification).
More information about the classification can be found on the World Intellectual Property Organization website.
International Patent Classification 2011. See "Version" in the left hand column for more information about the earlier versions 1-8.
Under "Catchwords" there is a small list of search words where you can try to find suitable classes.