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Use of Classification at the EPO

Use of Classification at the EPO

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Use of Classification at the EPO

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  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 IPC ECLA, FI/FT Search at EPO

  11. Families classified in ECLA and FI/FT (1,8m) Families classified in FI/FT (4,8m) Families classified in ECLA (4,9m) EPO Search(3): Relevance of FI/FT classification 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. Organic chemistry (35% of C) C section All SR ~= 775.000 EPO Search Reports in Organic Chemistry (last 5y) 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. EC classified Pat: 95% NPL: 24% JP: 17% 1% CN=2500, RU=2150, KR=1800 EPO Search Reports: What do we cite? EPO SR produced in the last 5 years (tot. 775.000) EPO Citation Statistics

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

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

  20. 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

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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

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

  26. IPC ECLA, FI/FT 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 ! • 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

  27. 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

  28. 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)

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

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