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Use of Classification at the EPO Pasquale Foglia DG1 Director, EPO WIPO, IPC Workshop 5 February 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Use of Classification at the EPO Pasquale Foglia DG1 Director, EPO WIPO, IPC Workshop 5 February 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Use of Classification at the EPO Pasquale Foglia DG1 Director, EPO WIPO, IPC Workshop 5 February 2008

2 Outline Introduction IPC at the EPO Classification Systems available at EPO EPO Search: general methodology and special cases Documentation and Citation Statistics Wish List and some Inconvenient Truths Conclusion

3 Introduction - myself Pasquale Foglia EPO Examiner and Classifier (15y) EPO Classification Board Electricity (2000-2006) DG1 (Operation) Director in AVM Cluster

4 Intro (1) - Can one tool do it all ? Introduction

5 Intro (2) - One tool ? Introduction Image: courtesy Wenger

6 Intro (3) - For best results use specialised tools ! Introduction

7 IPC at the EPO DG1 Structure (Clusters, Directorates) Internal distribution of patent applications to Directorates, then technical Teams (using "preclassification", together w ECLA) "A2" publications (18 months after PR) of EP applications Base for ECLA Statistics, Forecasts, Planning Search (!) IPC at EPO

8 Classification systems available at the EPO IPC-2006: Core level, Advanced level IPC (editions 1-7) ECLA (+ ICO, KW) US Patent Classification FI, FTerms Classification at EPO

9 EPO Search (1) : How do we do it? Classification is used in the vast majority of the technical fields (essential for e.g. searching concepts or processes) ECLA is often used in combination with other classifications, e.g. FI/FT (UCLA less used) The best mix of classification tools is quite variable, and field-dependent, e.g. specialised databases IPC is a necessary tool for the residual documentation Search at EPO

10 EPO Search (2) : Using classification First search in a superset defined by using your most precise classifications, e.g. ECLA Then search in the relevant residual IPC superset (i.e. IPC set minus (ECLA set, 'wrong' IPC set*) "déjà vu" functionality) * we'll see that later ECLA, FI/FT IPC Search at EPO

11 EPO Search (3) : Relevance of FI/FT classification Families classified in ECLA (4,9m) Families classified in FI/FT (4,8m) Families classified in ECLA and FI/FT (1,8m) EPO SR citing JP = ~ 17 % (~ 25.000 SR/Y steady ) Search at EPO

12 A detailed study (1): FI/FT consultation stats Section B* (Mechanics) About 40 subclasses investigated For each of them, a quantitative analysis was carried out to establish the ratio between: –the % of EP Search Reports citing JP docs –the % of JP documents classified in that subclass Results: –few ratios below 0,8 –most ratios around 1 or more –most ratios stable or increasing over 2004-2006 period Interpretation: –effective usage of FI/FT together with ECLA in "deep indexing"-intensive fields * additionally, also a few tens of subclasses in A, C and D were involved Search at EPO

13 A detailed study (2): Stats on CN and KR citations The previous analysis was extended to CN and KR patents NB: –whereas JP was in most subclasses > 20% (up to 50%) –CN or KR docs was in most cases 1% to 5% –in most of those fields indexing is important Result: –for both CN and KR the ratio is consistently well below 1 Interpretation: –(in the investigated fields) the EPO cannot access better 'added value' information* on CN and KR documentation –some years ago, it was the same with JP doc * does it exist? Search at EPO

14 EPO Search (5) : Classification is not used...... in part of Organic Chemistry: C07C C07D C07H C07J A61K31 used instead: CAS, Beilstein (with graphical user interfaces for defining molecular structures) T049: ECLA simplified to IPC AL T049 Search at EPO

15 EPO Search Reports in Organic Chemistry (last 5y) C section Organic chemistry (35% of C) All SR ~= 775.000 Search at EPO: stats

16 Biochemistry: a(nother) special case C12Q1 G01N33/50-98 C12N C07K A61K38, 39, 48 A01K67/027, 033 ~46.000 SR in the last 5y (similar split as previous graph) Search: Sequence listing + ECLA/ICO Classification (often neither of the two is enough on its own) Search at EPO

17 EPO Search Reports: What do we cite? EPO SR produced in the last 5 years (tot. 775.000) CN=2500, RU=2150, KR=1800 EC classified Pat: 95% NPL: 24% JP: 17% 1% EPO Citation Statistics

18 Patent Publication Statistics (from WPI and EPODOC) The % of only-IPC classified families is slowly increasing, and the country-of-origin split is rapidly changing: KR+CN share is increasing 16% 18% 17% Publication Statistics

19 Pats published from 2007 Statistics

20 Patent Publications (families) KR+CN = ~24% of this patent doc over last 9 years Publication Statistics

21 Theoretical level of CN, KR citations JP doc = 35 % SR with JP cited = 17 % (~2:1 ratio) CN+KR doc = 8% (all) ; 16% (last 5y) SR with CN or KR cited = ~ 4% (at least) the reality is (next slide) … Statistics

22 % of EPO Search Reports citing CN, KR docs 800 EPO Citation Statistics

23 Example: G09G - Displays Almost all patents: JP or KR PR World leaders: Samsung, LG, Pioneer, Panasonic,... Plasma displays One (1!) IPC group: G09G3/28 8.740 families 28% KR patents not EC or FT classified Last 5 years: 511 EPO SR SR with KR docs: 16 3% SR with JP docs: 283 55% EPO Citation Statistics Image: courtesy Sony

24 Better Patent Search: not only IPC classification! In general, added-value systems need improvements: –share internal classification schemes and doc inventory for search –better availability (in format and language) of national patent publications, e.g. Utility Models –better translation engines –easy availability of references and citations –(categorised) full-text, controlled keywords, extended abstracts in English –relevant information (e.g. sequence listings) must be published according to the required standards EPO Wish List

25 Reformed IPC: some inconvenient truths The Reform has not addressed/overcome some fundamental problems of the IPC IPC is rarely used for search (at the EPO…) CL: anybody cares? Invention Information/Additional Information –not consistently applied (next slide) –cheer up: ECLA Reform has received a similar lukewarm welcome among EPO classifiers/searchers (~ 12% of subclasses) Not harmonised IPC application (next slide) Full compulsory Reclassification? IPC: some inconvenient truths

26 Facing Reality: Application of "Additional Information" IPC Average: 7% does it matter when doing a search? IPC: some inconvenient truths

27 Facing Reality: Not harmonised use of IPC Possibly the most serious problem of the IPC (even more than the size of the groups) One -expensive- trick to reduce noise used by a few EPO examiners is "negative" classification Harmonisation would be better ! ECLA, FI/FT IPC implemented by using (controlled) keywords sporadically allocated to documents that are normally not classified in ECLA (e.g. RU, CN) and stumbled upon during searches the KW is composed of an IPC symbol followed by an "X" meaning: the document bearing it should not have been classified in that IPC group (according to EPO interpretation...) Negative Set IPC: some inconvenient truths

28 So, do we still need the IPC? For what? Paradoxically, due to the rapid increase of % of patents only published with IPC, its importance is growing! Though, not (only) for Search Where is the IPC in the Toolbox analogy? The IPC is... the BOX ! IPC is the only binding element among a (growing) plethora of unrelated and specialised tools As any "universal" language, it's incomplete and imprecise, but it's very much needed for e.g. concordance, navigation, link IPC: a fundamental question

29 IPC Community: a message in a bottle Face reality: nature (and patent offices, and classifiers, and searchers) follow the path of minimum resistance Make pragmatic choices: –Keep what's used / Involve Stakeholders / Innovate –Timely improve where needed: Technology Watch! –Reclassification: some AL projects (H04W) are at a stand- still: implement what's possible rather than nothing at all Other classifications may be locally more precise: acknowledge this fact, coordinate among them and help the user: external links, references, navigation facilities,... IPC CL for NPL (Non-Patent Literature): can WIPO convince publishers? Broader cooperation is needed: EPO is ready to help! Conclusion (1/3)

30 Every cockroach is beautiful to its mother, but... Reformed IPC Conclusion (2/3) Image: courtesy Disney-Pixar

31 ... many bugs make quite a powerful bunch ! Reformed IPC Thank You! Conclusion Image: courtesy Disney-Pixar

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