This latest series of reforms announced on March 1, 2005 have been steadily formulated over the six year period from 1999 to 2005, have resulted in a number of fundamental changes to the structure and methods of revision and use of the IPC, as follows:
- The IPC has been divided into two levels - a core and advanced level - to better satisfy the differing needs of small and large offices. Smaller offices will use the relatively simple and stable core level and larger offices will use the more complex and dynamic advanced level.
- An Internet version of the IPC has been enhanced to facilitate classification and search. This will include definitions of classifications, structured chemical formulae and other images, and definitions of technical terms to illustrate and explain IPC entries.
- The revision of the core level will be done every three years and the advanced level will follow an accelerated procedure under the supervision of a special subcommittee to allow for the rapid introduction into the IPC of changes brought about by technological developments.
- The most up-to-date version of the IPC will be available for patent searches as all patent collections will be reclassified on the basis of the changes introduced into that version.
- Access to the worldwide collection of patent documents will be available through the Master Classification Database (MCD) which is being created using databases of the European Patent Office (EPO). The documents included in the MCD will be classified according to the current version of the IPC and will be periodically reclassified in line with future revision of the IPC.
Both the Internet version (including the complete IPC text) and printed versions of the core level of the latest (eighth) edition of the IPC will be available in English and French in June 2005. Additional material, such as catchword indexes and a new version of the IPC:CLASS CD-ROM will also be published later in 2005.