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Difference Between IPC Smart and IPC Original

Target group: Enterprise, Essentials
Last updated: January 2021


The International Patent Classification (IPC) is an internationally used hierarchical patent classification system and consists of five levels:

  1. The first letter denotes the IPC section.
  2. The following two digit number denotes the IPC class.
  3. The following letter denotes the IPC subclass.
  4. The 1-3 digit number following the letter denotes the IPC main group.
  5. The last 1-3 digit number following a forward slash "/" denotes the IPC subgroup.

The same structure – IPC levels 1 to 5 – is also reflected in the PatentSight BI when searching for IPCs or when grouping charts and tables by IPCs. In this, you can choose between IPC (smart) and IPC (original). Note that these options are also available for CPCs (CPC (smart), CPC (original)) and F-Terms (F-term (smart), F-Term (original)). 

The difference between these two options is the treatment of indented subgroups (identifiable by preceding dots). The option IPC (original) only filters for patent families that belong to the subgroup you have selected. The option IPC (smart) takes the hierarchy resulting from the indentation into account and additionally filters for patent families that belong to all subgroups that are hierarchically inferior to the subgroup you have selected.

Example:  IPC Subgroup A61K 51/02
51/00 Preparations containing radioactive substances for use in therapy or testing in vivo [2006.01]
  Note(s) [6] In this group, it is desirable to add the indexing codes of groups A61K 101/00-A61K 103/00.
51/02 ・characterised by the carrier [2006.01]
51/04 ・・Organic compounds [2006.01]
51/06 ・・・Macromolecular compounds [2006.01]
51/08 ・・・Peptides, e.g. proteins [2006.01]
51/10 ・・・・Antibodies or immunoglobulins; Fragments thereof [2006.01]
51/12 ・characterised by a special physical form, e.g. emulsion, microcapsules, liposomes [2006.01]

➤ If you search for A61K 51/02 using IPC (original), only patent families with the classification A61K 51/02 will be found. 

➤ If you search for A61K 51/02 using IPC (smart), not only patent families with the IPC classification A61K 51/02 but also those with any of the classifications A61K 51/04 to A61K 51/10 will be included in your search results.